• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Private company to blame for Home Affairs offline system

By Zolile Mate

The Home Affairs office in East London has been offline for the most part of last week and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) in Pretoria is to blame. Provincial Manager for Home affairs, Gcinile Mabulu apologised to all those that were affected by the offline systems.


“We humble ourselves to the community and residents at large about the issue of on and off of our system. I would declare this is a national level problem and it is out of our hands as the regional office because our network is run externally, the main Data Centre is in Pretoria,” said Mabulu.


Mabulu added that they are equally concerned about this interruption. SITA is a schedule 3A private company, government is its only shareholder and client. It is meant to enable the efficient delivery of e-government services to the public.


“We are aware that people come from far and spent the whole day in our offices waiting for services. We wish we can speedily resolve this problem, but at this stage we are not sure when that will be.”


Residents are furious at Home Affairs in East London claiming that their systems being down has caused chaos and anxiety. Scores of people have been waiting for hours in long queues, getting hungry, tired and thirsty. The elders with high blood pressure and diabetes were left stranded while waiting.


The SITA has been incredibly unreliable of the past few years. In 2018, after a series of outages in all Home Affairs offices, SITA attributed the downtime to power outages. The SITA CEO, Dr Setumo Mohapisaid they were affected by Tshwane’s faulty cables, their backup generator was low on diesel fuel plus the fuel pump then burnt out and a new pump had to be installed.


The Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) system kicked in which relies on batteries, but due to high workload, the batteries died and the UPS system failed. Government uncovered that SITA's Centurion data centre runs on battery power when the electricity goes off.


“It is very rare to have such a disaster where every back-up in place fails, and it’s still unknown what caused the fuel pump to burn,” Dr Mohapi had said, adding that the major reason for outages is a power problem.


The cause of the system going offline this time around will be announced following a series of meetings with national government.

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