Getting A Toddler A Passport At The Scottburgh (Park Rynie) Home Affairs

Getting A Toddler A Passport At The Scottburgh (Park Rynie) Home Affairs

SA Passport
SA Passport

We arrived at the Park Rynie (Scottburgh) Home Affairs at 7am where we joined an already long queue. Starting at 7:30am people were let into the building in batches, which meant that everyone else was left standing outside in the baking sun. Sharon and I took turns at sitting in the shade with Emma, while the other unlucky person kept our place in the queue.

Thankfully we made it into the building with the second batch, just after 9am. It then took another 1 to 2 hours before we were called to the photo booth. It felt like the end, but was in fact just the beginning. The new system, although seemingly efficient, has an automated photo-booth which shows some merit. You sit in a booth, face the camera, and then using facial recognition it takes a photo when the applicant is in the correct position. Although this is a 15 second process for adults, it was a painful 30 minute hell-hole for Emma.

For half an hour we struggled to get her sit still and look at the camera without smiling. I guess it’s understandable since I’ve spent the last 2 years teaching her to smile for my multitude of cameras. We tried using her tablet above the camera, sitting under her, holding her, bribing her…but nothing worked. Even when she held a valid position for 30 seconds it wouldn’t take a photo, and frustratingly nobody knew why. The people behind us were growing increasingly more irritated (as were we). Tension was high and tears were flying off an on (from Emma, I promise). Eventually a supervisor assisted, failed, and kicked us out of the booth. I’m guessing my comments which followed his suggestion didn’t help our cause. In fact when he suggested we leave and come back another day I came close to losing it.

Instead we were bumped to the back of the queue and started the process again. Thankfully rationality returned as I calmed down and I came up with an idea as to why it hadn’t worked, even when she was in the correct position. The chair had a high backrest and, since Emma is so short, it was directly behind her head. My new theory was that the camera was looking for a plain white background, and that the backrest was preventing the photo from being taken.

Thirty minutes later we were allowed back into the booth where I suggested Emma stand rather than sit. Five minutes later and the photo was taken, much to everyone’s relief. And so we rejoined the queue.

Through the process Emma had thankfully made a friend and I was spending my free time entertaining 2 children (and myself). By now it was nearing 12pm and we were getting hungry. We hadn’t anticipated it would take this long and therefore hadn’t packed any food. Hoping our number wouldn’t be called I took a walk down the road to the local garage where I purchased a few sandwiches, sweets, and drinks.

It was great to be out of the building but I had to pity the still long queue of people standing in the now midday sun. In fact one lady was complaining loudly about the conditions, as she was burned to a crisp, skin as red as a coke bottle lid. Others were fanning themselves in the shade. There wasn’t a smile in site.

Back in the waiting room we enjoyed our lunch as we watched counter 4 process the people ahead of us in the queue. We sighed sadly as we saw the initial person in front of us complete their application…knowing we would have been next had it not been for the photo-booth fail.

At this point the counter had been processing a person roughly every 10 minutes. But then, much to our dismay, a group of 2 adults with 4 children started the process. For some reason they had endless problems (including having to go back to the photo-booth) and took them roughly 30 minutes each. This further slowed our progress, although by now we had somewhat given up on our will to live.

Finally, at around 2:30pm, we were called to the counter. Amazingly the man helping us was fast and efficient and we were done within 5 minutes. This left me wondering how the whole process had taken us 7 hours. But this was no time to ponder such things. We rushed from the building, letting out a huge sigh of relief as the doors swung shut behind us.