Issues with South African Representation in the United Kindom

This is an open letter to Dr Skweyiya who is the South African High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. I don't know if the last two years living in the UK has made me soft but I have experienced the worst service from South Africa House. This is an open letter that I have written to get my complaint heard...


16 / 03 / 2011
Dear Dr Skweyiya
I write this open letter to you in a state of utter frustration. I have been attempting to contact the home affairs section of South Africa House in order to have five simple questions answered. After two days and upwards of 100 attempts my quest has proved fruitless. There are three numbers available to contact Home Affairs; 02079258900 02079258901 and 02079258910. Of these numbers, one goes straight to a voicemail (whether this is even listened to is doubtful as I have had no response, but only you can answer that), the other two number simply ring for about two minutes before being cut off. After this they are engaged for upwards of 10 minutes. There is no call-waiting feature, no electronic system to answer queries and seemingly no-one willing to take responsibility for this gross lapse in service.

I find this particularly disturbing as South Africa House is the prime representative and port of call for matters relating to South African governmental issues for every single South African citizen living in or visiting the United Kingdom. To have such an evidently lax telephonic system is appalling. Having said that, I was prepared to believe that the telephone system was just busy every time I called and I was actually just very unlucky, so I called the general enquiries line (02074517299). The woman who picked up the phone informed me that she was unable to answer my five questions and that I needed to call the Home Affairs Section. After explaining my plight (see above) she told me that she was still unable to help in anyway. She suggested that I physically come into the embassy. This is a good idea for anyone who doesn’t actually work as the fraction of the day that you are open to the public happens to be at the start of the working day. All through this conversation the woman refused to provide her name for reference stating “we don’t give names here”. I find this incredibly rude and cannot see how this is either logical or displays the “friendly face” of South Africa to the British public. Believing that I was still just unlucky, I asked how busy the call centre was and the woman mentioned that the lady manning the desk was busy. To clarify (and I did): there was one person manning the telephone; one person to field all the queries and issues surrounding South African home affairs in the entire United Kingdom. I was stunned. I am still stunned; stunned by this lack of forethought, lack of effort and attitude of utter apathy on the part of the South African representatives in the United Kingdom. No wonder there was no service. What really gets to me is that if I have had to go to this much effort as a South African citizen, what does a British citizen have to go through? What kind of image does this portray?

Should any action be taken regarding this letter – although past experience dictates that none will be taken – my queries are as follows:
1) What is the window period in which I can renew my passport, mine expires in six months, can I renew it now?

2) I see that your website states that it takes 4 months for a damaged passport to be replaced, how long to simply renew one?

3) I have my UK Ancestry visa in my old passport, will I have to transfer that across to my new one or will I just need to carry two passports?

4) What is a maxi-passport?

5) Your website is ambiguous as to whether it costs £14 to replace a damaged passport or to renew one. What is the cost to renew a passport?

Yours Sincerely

Stuart C Duncan

South African Citizen


If anyone has had similar mishandling or has actually had good service please post and let me know about it.

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Frustrated South African

Stuart,I feel ur pain. I have been trying those exact three numbers and have had exactly the same experience. When I call the embassy on 02074517299 for some help as the consular is asleep, I get through to some rude,unfriendly person that is not bothered helping in anyway what so ever. This has been going on since Monday the 14th March and its on days like this that I am ashamed to be South African and understand why I left SA. Just sad u got to put up with the same pathetic service when u 9000 km away from the damn country.
Anyway,I hope u get urs answers as mine are the same
Renewing my passport and transferring my ancestry visa.

South African Representation in the United Kindom

Hi Stuart, interesting letter as it covers a whole lot of issues that quite a lot of South Africans have raised. I have forwarded it on to the SA High Commission and Visa office for comment.

thanks, Susan



Another voice

Hi Susan,
I too would like to add a complaint, please let me know how I can do this.

Thank you!

Thank u for ur trouble

Hi Susan
Can I ask,if u ever do receive a comment back from either department,could we arrange a celebration party and record that event as a miracle.
Thank you

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