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Maponya Mall Thusong Centre at the forefront of service delivery

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
On average the Maponya Mall Thusong Service Centre receives about 22 000 clients monthly requiring government services, which range from applying for identity documents (IDs), entrepreneur information and employment opportunities.

Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane at the launch of the Maponya Mall Thusong Service Centre in Soweto.In 2013, alone the centre had 243 460 visitors with the Departments of Home Affairs, Labour and the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport being the most popular. The Home Affairs office had 91 777 visits, the Department of Labour had 79 744 visits and the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport had 54 532.

A Thusong Service Centre is a one-stop service centre providing information and services to communities in an integrated manner. Each Thusong Centre is modified to suit the needs of a particular community.

Other offices at the centre include the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, the National Youth Development Agency and a Professional Job Centre.

Everyday the centre is abuzz with the young and old seeking information. At the entrance of the centre queues are managed by tight security and are separated according to the needs of the individuals.

The NYDA office offers services such as career guidance, job preparation, job placement, business development, a grant programme between R1 000 to R100 000 along with non-financial support in running and starting a business. The most popular service is business development.

According to Tshepo Manyama, who manages the NYDA office, between 700 and 1 000 people receive services in a month. He says the office also monitors the progress of the entrepreneurs after they have received assistance from NYDA.

Gauteng Finance also has an office within the Thusong Centre, known as the Professional Job Centre, which assists community members with drafting their CVs and searching for employment electronically.

Nombulelo Skosana, who works in this department, says each person is given 30 minutes to use a computer to look for employment. If the centre is not busy, they can use the computer as long as they need to.

The Professional Job Centre gets between 500 and 1 300 visitors a month.

Ruth Ntathe, who manages the Home Affairs office, says the services her office offers include re-issuing of birth certificates, application for IDs and temporary IDs, passports and unabridged birth certificates.

Ntathe says in the 2012/13 financial year, the Home Affairs office had about 7 000 visitors a month.

“Since the centre was so busy, the office was renovated to make the service quicker and faster. The seating area of the Home Affairs office was upgraded from four counters to 23 and one cashier along with expanding the seating to 40 people.”

She adds that since the renovations there are fewer queues and people are helped faster.

Humphrey Manene, from the Department of Labour office, says UIF applications, people applying to be medically boarded and those who were injured on duty and people facing problems at work are the most popular services.

“We have about 80 000 people visiting the office and the community gives us a positive response because the Thusong Centre is closer to their homes.”

He adds that they also get visits from people coming from as far as Benoni, Sandton and Springs because they know they will get assistance from the Maponya Mall Thusong Centre.

Katlego Letsholo, who works at the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport office, says they offer services such as renewal of licence discs, professional driving permits and license renewals.

In June this year the office had about 3 000 visitors and it takes less than 10 minutes for customers to get assistance, adds Letsholo.

Sani Molefe, who manages the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) office, says the GEP is an agency of the Department of Economic Development in Gauteng.

“We were established to provide financial and non-financial services to SMMEs and cooperatives in the province.

Our objective is to make sure that we give assistance that supports the growth and development of SMMEs in the province.” The GEP, which caters for financing needs up to R5 million, offers enterprises who meet certain criteria funding, subject to the enterprise proving financial viability and the ability to repay the loan.

The GEP assists up to 200 people a month and their services are relevant to SMME development and are interlinked.

Hlengiwe Cele, who manages the Maponya Mall Thusong Centre, says through teamwork and adhering to Batho Pele Principles her team is able to provide service delivery to the community.Thusong Service Centre manager Hlengiwe Cele says what makes the centre successful is teamwork, an emphasis of customer care and adhering to Batho Pele principles.

“We do monitor and evaluate our performance and use data collected to make informed decisions or to improve service delivery.”

The main function of Thusong Service Centres is to address social and economic factors, which limited access to information, services, and participation by citizens, as they had to travel long distances to access these services.

In March 2012 there were 171 Thusong Service Centres across the country, providing access to information and services to citizens.

Typical services found in these centres include those offered by the Departments of Home Affairs, Labour, Social Development and Health, as well as the South African Social Security Agency and GCIS.

The Post Office, libraries, agricultural extension offices, municipal services, South African Police Service, NGOs, and community-based organisations can also be found in Thusong Centres.