IN THIS place even the biblical Job would have snapped. The man known for his legendary patience would not survive a morning at the Maynard Mall offices of Home Affairs in Wynberg, Cape Town. Everybody warned me about the endless waiting. What are my options? “Simple,” said the security guard: “be here at 5.30 tomorrow morning.” My painter was always looking for odd jobs so I paid him to be there at that ungodly hour. “I’m number four in line,” he whispered over the cellphone.Shortly after opening hours at 8am I replaced the painter in the line and greeted the sour-faced woman at the information desk. She eventually found me on the computer: “Go and pay.” Okay, “where exactly?” Where everybody pays, apparently, before you even get any service. I was number four in the line but the pay point now already had 15 people and was growing because there was one old lady doing the job behind the counter while everybody else just did the South African thing: they waited. A well-set woman was ...

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