Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

At around 7.35am the "director of all the queues" at the imposing home affairs building in Barrack Street, Cape Town, strolled out to tell the few hundred or so people snaking all the way down towards Buitenkant Street that the office wouldn’t be opening until 9am. "It’s because of the precarious balance between the start of the Aries season and the full moon in Libra," I thought I heard him say. On reflection, it might have been: "We only open at 9am on the last Wednesday of the month … sorry." A sense of dejection percolated through the anxious crowd, which had become increasingly animated as the clock dawdled past 7am, then ticked past 7.30am. It would soon be 8am and then, we all thought, there’d be no stopping us. In we’d go to line up at our next queue and then another and then another — a heady few hours of queuing lay ahead of us, several hours for those close to Buitenkant Street. Which is why the director of all queues is a remarkably powerful position at home affairs in B...

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