Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Great PCC Debacle of 2012

Crikey, what a mission. I suppose it serves me right for ignoring warnings and leaving it so late to apply for my Police Clearance Certificate, the very last document that I need. Well, in early September, I went to get fingerprinted. R59 and some very dirty hands later, I was ready to send it on to be processed at the Criminal Records Centre in Pretoria.

Mistake number 1: I didn't send it immediately; I was waiting until the new EPIK application form came out so I could do all my posting at once. Get this sorted out ASAP.

So eventually I speed-serviced it over to Pretoria. Getting a tracking number reassured me, as this one envelope contains everything an identity thief could ever dream of. I sent it off the day after my EPIK stuff was sent to my recruiter for the simple reason that I'd forgotten to bring it with me on my first visit to the post office.

Mistake number 2: Wrapped in the bubble of news-silence that is Grahamstown, I was unaware that there was looming strike action. And, whaddaya know? The very week I send my most important document off, the delivery truck drivers go on strike. Story of my life. The post office outsourced to private drivers. However, this inevitably led to chaos as these guys really are not trained to do post. For example, one guy gave the entire bag of post - parcels, snail mail and speed services - to the nearest human being, a security guard, when he arrived before the post office opened. Luckily that security guard was an honest person, and he brought it into the post office branch where my flatmate works (which is why I know this happened).

As a result of this fiasco, my PCC went missing. And I only discovered this when Noma, the nice lady at Docs4Expats who I'd paid to speed things up and to monitor it, emailed me to tell me that it hadn't arrived. Even though I'd sent it over a week before that.

I spent an entire day phoning the post office and police station (and intermittently crying in between) trying to find my missing documents, and Noma suggested I get re-fingerprinted and send them via courier as soon as possible. The wonderful lady at the Post Office went out of her way to track my parcel down, and finally managed to confirm that it had been delivered to the CRC in Pretoria. When the young cop on the phone at the CRC told me about how they were barely dealing with the backlog, and sounded like she was going to cry from being shouted at by an entire country all day, I decided to give it a week. I also didn't want to go back to the dodgiest part of town to get fingerprinted. Again.

So I waited, and waited, and waited. The strike ended and Noma said she'd see if she could pick up the documents from the post office. And that was the last I heard about it - which is understandable as nearly every person and their aunt is using Noma to get things apostilled and so on in Pretoria this time of year, so she is beyond busy.

On Friday I asked my nice boyfriend if he could give me a lift to the police station to get re-fingerprinted this Monday, as rain has been putting me off the walk. Well, it has not stopped raining since Wednesday. And not the usual half-hearted drizzle; this is 5 days of solid torrential downpour, 24/7 (except for a brief sunny respite which coincided with our usual Ultimate Frisbee practice time, luckily enough). Nearby towns are flooded, and a couple of hours ago the only road to the nearest city was washed away by a flooded river.

Here are some photos of the devastation in Grahamstown:

The main road to Port Elizabeth

So... if I did try to post anything, it would go via Port Elizabeth. But only if the van is driven by Sandra Bullock.

In a fit of optimism I decided to see if anything had progressed on Pretoria's end, by checking the status of my application here.

And lo and behold, my PCC application has appeared on their database, which means it is being processed. Additionally, the other day my original copy of my TEFL certificate arrived in Mauritius, so I'm just that much closer to being in Korea. My recruiter says I'm on the waiting list for an interview, so I should hear about that any day now.

In the end, after all this chaos, things are looking up. Well, except for the destruction of the main supply lines to town. Farms have lost their crops because of flooding, and anything they did manage to harvest is stuck on the other side of impassable roads, so (of course) Pick n Pay have doubled their prices and it looks like I'll have to start rationing the cookies. Students have been seen bum-surfing on local schools' fields, some businesses are closed, and it is quite likely that no one will show up to class on Monday, as students in this town are known to dissolve if they get wet. Something to do with the alcohol content in their blood streams.

Time to break out the rubber duckie.

No comments:

Post a Comment