SARS: My Drama For The Week… With a Happy Ending
I had a draft version of this post lying around my laptop, but decided not to use it due to it being a little too ratchet for my liking.
I am generally a happy person – I don’t like complaining or being in a bad mood. The Tax Number trauma I had gone through, with SARS (South African Revenue Service) really annoyed me to the point I was just shouting and acting all ratchet everywhere! I eventually got everything sorted (after a 5 hour trip to East London), and I do not want to enter a SARS office again (I know, I am asking for the impossible).
I got a job at the University computer labs – I took out the job because I wanted to get some work experience next to my name, and I wanted to see how it feels like, working a job. On the administration side of things, I was required to submit my banking details, my Identification Document, and my Tax Number… I had all of these but the tax number. I thought getting the tax number wouldn’t be such a challenge…boy was I so wrong!!
The Drama Unfolds
Getting Myself Ready
According to the SARS Web Page (I later see a link that the registration has now changed since 2014), it says that I should download and fill out the form, attach a certified copy of my ID document. I ask around, about the tax number registration and hear that you should carry a certified copy of my ID Document, a certified copy of my Bank Statement and Proof of Address. I went and prepared all three documents – I carried Proof of my Study address (Lease Agreement) and I got my student account printed (this shows my address back at home).
The day to send the documents to SARS is here – I woke up at 4am, took a shower, got dressed up and had my breakfast and strong coffee. I then double checked my documents, made sure I had the correct documents with me – this all looked good. 5.40AM came, and it was time for me to catch a taxi down to SARS.
The time is now a little after 6AM, and I have gotten to the SARS office… there was a line forming, but, luckily for me, I was at the front of the line. I stood in the line and I spoke to the person standing in front of me – he also came for the tax number registration. As we were chatting, the line grew longer and longer…. by 7:30AM, the line had reached the hotel that was on that street. To pass time, I took out my earphones and started rocking to the awesome sounds of K-Pop. I smiled when I saw a woman (who seemed to be in her mid-30’s) run a little shop on the side of the line – clearly she saw an opportunity and seized it! As she was setting up her shop, I said “Yho, uyibonile iBusiness!!”and she smiled.
It was now 9AM, and SARS had opened up… 2 SARS employees came out – one was issuing ticket numbers to people who had been verified by the other SARS employee, who would check if you have the correct documentation.
To make things smooth, we will call the first SARS employee Rob and the second SARS employee Janet.
The Wheels Start Coming Off!
Janet was going through the line of people, checking that they have the correct documents. If all your documents were valid, she would hand you a ticket… you would take the ticket to Rob, who will assign you a ticket number. I got a little nervous as she came closer and closer to me (I was worrying for the worst to happen – that she may turn me back on some missing documentation). There had been a few people who were turned back on missing documents, so that made me even more nervous. It was my turn to get checked – I presented my documents to Janet and the worst case-scenario happened! Janet told me that they cannot take my lease agreement as proof of residence… this was not registering in my head, because it had proof I stay there!! I was so stressed, I waited in this line since the early hours of the morning and now I am being turned away! Janet then tells me they accept the student account information as proof of residence. I chill around the line, in shock, worrying and stressing that I am going to be at the back of the line! Another man, standing in the line wakes me up from the shock, he says “If he hurries, he would be back here in 10 minutes”… with that, I decided to run down to the main street and find a printer and internet!
I walk down the main street for a couple of minutes, struggling to find a place to print. I ask a woman (who was handing out some flyers) where I can get something printed…. she refers me to a small shop, right next to Shoprite. I get to the shop, the man working at the shop was able to help me – I gave him my student number and date of birth so he can reach my financial statement and print it out… I had to pay R5.00 for the print, but at this point, costs didn’t matter for me. With the printing done, I rushed back to SARS
The Wheels Start Cracking Up
I got back to SARS and looking at the length of the line was really depressing… what depressed me more was that I may have to stand right at the back of the line. This SARS branch closes its doors for new customers at around 1pm (they officially close at 4pm), and I worried that I may get be turned away!
I decided, well, if I am going to stand at the back of the line, I might as well first confirm with Janet that the Student Account is valid, so that I do not waste more time and money… I go find Janet, I gave her my Student Account so she can check, and she said the document is alright… I was happy, but depressed that I probably will have to stand at the back of the line… I ask Janet “Will you guys process the entire line…. Must I go stand at back”… She replies “We have to!”. I tell Janet that I have been here since the morning, and, to my surprise, she gives me a ticket, and tells me to go to Rob so he can assign me a ticket number…. I smiled, my hands were shaking from the happiness… I head over to Rob, who then assigned me a ticket number (I was number 52). With that, I finally get entrance to the SARS office!
The Wheels Now Completely Come Off
I get into the SARS office, and take a seat, as I wait for my ticket number to be called… I decide to make a quick trip to the bathroom, as I had not taken a pee since the morning. I take my seat, and about 20 minutes later, my ticket number was called! At this point, my emotion changed from being depressed and sad, to really happy! My tax number would be done today and I will be one happy person!! Just wait for it…..
I was attended to by a SARS consultant (we will call her Sammy). I told Sammy my story, that I want to create a tax number. Of course, Sammy requested all the documentation… As I sat and watched Sammy go through each document and capture the information on her computer, I was really happy that I finally got into SARS, and that I am finally being served!! I also had this worry in my head that Sammy might turn me away for some odd reason. Sammy goes through each document, she asks me for my ID Document so she can make a copy of it (I don’t why because I had provided a certified copy with my forms). She makes the copy and tells me she had to make the picture lighter as the printer made my ID come out really dark. I smiled, and chuckled a little…
As Sammy captures the information on her computer, she runs into a little snag…. she tells me that she cannot take in the address supplied on my student account. I tell her that this is where I stay, back at home. She then tells me that I do not stay there… I now stay in Port Elizabeth… She then says these words “When SARS comes knocking at your door, we want to see you…” as part of her explanation. I was getting really sad, so I provided her my lease agreement, and told her this is the only other form of proof of residence I have…. she then says that she cannot take this either – she requires the ID copy of my landlord and that the landlord must fill out a form stating I stay at one of his properties. Sammy then goes and confirms with her “team leader” if she can accept any of my residence documents and she tells me she still can’t accept them. I was really depressed, and angry at the same time. I felt so hot inside, I really wished someone would burn that SARS office, at that point.
I realize that being angry over this is not going to save me anything, so the next thing to do would be to call my landlord and ask him to fill out the form and attach his ID Document… He then tells me the only form of proof of residence he can really give out is the lease agreement document and that his ID is damaged and it would be too much trouble attaching the ID to the forms… After hearing all of that, my mind just felt like spaghetti – I was angry, I was sad, I was frustrated…. I even had the ugly look on my face!
I tried to find the ward Councillors – I heard they would be able to help me with this matter. I asked around and was told I would find them at Market Square…. I go there and hear they are no longer there, due to a strike that took place earlier… I got really annoyed, and I was going all ratchet not listening to what people say… just filtering their speech out for the key information. I was told I would find them in the building across the street – I head to that building and there, I am told I would find them at another building on Military Street. I was so pissed, and then decided now is the time to go home – I am wasting my time and money here. I angrily walk towards the taxi’s and catch one going to Summerstrand.
The Wheels are Now off… Back to the Drawing Board
I was angry – angry I was not served, and angry that I wasted precious time and money (time is something I really do not have this year). I got back home, and on my way back, I had to think of a plan – I have to get the tax number ASAP, other wise I wont be able to make my claim so I can get paid up. A few minutes of walking, and my plan of action surfaced – the only way to get this tax number as soon as possible, is for me to make a trip to East London.
The distance between East London and Port Elizabeth is a little over 300KM… this is typically a 3hr drive by car, about 5 hours by the bus, and 15 minutes by the plane. I called my parents and told them the entire situation, I told them the only way of getting this tax number done is to head for the SARS office in East London. They agreed to this, and with that, I booked my bus ticket to East London.
Before going for the bus, I went and worked my shift at the labs. Before working my lab shift, I had told a number of people my situation…and I probably was being a little too dramatic, and booked my bus ticket to East London – I told myself this is the only option left and I will make it happen one way or another. The bus ticket cost me R315 (was supposed to be R333.00 – this was one time I was happy to see a student discount)… getting to the bus station would mean I would need to catch a taxi to town then walk a few meters to the station…. This was the fun part of the ordeal.
The Happy Time I Needed
I boarded the taxi at University…. taxi’s only take off once they are full or they have managed to overload 2 or 3 more people. I arrived and the taxi was needing one more passenger for it to go… now that I had boarded, the taxi is now ready to go. I was really tired, my WhatsApp messages were coming through, and I didn’t have the energy to type text, so I decided to send an Audio Note, in the taxi.
Because I was really tired and a bit pissed, I was a little too dramatic with this voice note – I sent this voice note to a friend of mine…. I was telling her how horrible my day was at SARS, and how ratchet the line was (yes, I literally used that word in my voice notes). This voice note recording caught the attention of other people in the taxi and we all laughed together – this is one element I love about catching taxi’s, that it is so friendly inside!
I tell the other people in the taxi my situation, they all were shocked…. the one girl says “Wow, so this is the story of your life… we all have stories”…and we all laughed together! I told them all of my plans…. that I plan on going to East London to do the tax number registration and return to Port Elizabeth the next day. I had no classes on the day I return, so I do not have much to lose. The people in the taxi could see that I am stressed out, and the one girl said I should check that I have all the documents I need on me…. this caused my stress levels to escalate a little, I opened my bag and scratched around for the documents…. the taxi passengers were laughing, hell, even I was laughing at how dire the situation has become for me. Eventually I find my documents, and they were all happy for me…. I enjoyed every moment of being in the taxi – despite the horrific day I had, it all ended well with some good times and fun along the way. It was time to get off the taxi, the bus stop was a few metres away… I got off and waved back at the passengers on the taxi, they really managed to put a big smile on my face.
I walked the last few metres… I got to the bus station, redeemed my ticket, and a few minutes later, boarded the bus going to East London. I am generally not a fan of buses – they will play content that I find to be boring, or it will be really cold inside. The bus ride was 5hrs long, it was really cold inside, I wanted to sleep but I could not sleep. I just sat up, looked at the darkness outside my window.
I arrive at East London (at about 10:30pm) and my parents are there, waiting for me. I greet them, get on the car, and then, it was home time 🙂 I got home, ate some food, and went to sleep – my plan was to wake up early, and be at the East London SARS at 7:30am (I assumed the East London branch would be as bad as the Port Elizabeth branch, but, my parents told me the East London one doesn’t get packed).
The Happy Ending to The Story
Finally Wrapping Things Up!!
The morning came, and it was time to get ready for SARS – I took a shower, ate my breakfast, packed away the few things I came with, and I was ready to roll! My dad accompanied me to SARS as he had some business to take care of at SARS. We left the house at around 7.15am and we got to SARS at around 7.45am… When we drove in, I saw the large volume of cars and I worried a little…. it turned out, I worried for nothing!!
My dad parked the car and it was time to get into SARS…. I carried all my documents, and I got my dad to sign the form stating that I stay under his roof. We walked into SARS, they scanned us, and directed us to the second floor. At the second floor, the woman at inquiries had a look at the documents I had with me, they looked all good to her, and she assigned me a ticket number… I walked and took a seat, waiting to be attended to.
It wasn’t even 10 minutes, and my ticket number was called – a consultant was ready to aid me. I told her I wanted to register for a tax number… I gave her all the documentation required….she captured the information in to the system, and scanned all my documents. She asked why I was applying for the tax number, and I told her I had gotten a small part-time job. She asked when I would get married, and I told her not anytime soon… I told her I want to first have a decent amount of money, then I will think of marriage… I really enjoyed the small chit-chat, it made things even faster and enjoyable…. the process took about 5 minutes in its entirety, and with that I was ready to go back to University.
I got an SMS notifying me of the tax number creation… I have saved the SMS, should I need it in the future. Before going to board the bus, I told my dad to pass home really quick so I scan and email the tax number document they gave to me, after registration – I had to email this to the lab I was working for. I took about 20 minutes to do this all, staring up the laptop – connecting to the internet, and then setting the printer is not such a speedy task.
I sent the documents through and with that, I was ready to go to the bus stop. My dad dropped me off at the bus stop at around 11am… the bus was scheduled to leave East London, for Port Elizabeth, at 1:15PM. During the free time I had, I decided to grab some coffee and pizza, and surf the internet at the same time… I had to plug my laptop in power, seeing as the battery life has gone to rubbish so quickly. I had myself a Hawaiian Pizza… it went down so well, after getting that tax number issue sorted. I ate the pizza, drank all my coffee, and then I decided to walk around the area to kill time. I turned back to the waiting spot 45 minutes before boarding time… I enjoyed my little side adventure.
I remembered I had gotten the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 from my dad, so I chopped up the big sim card, and made into a mini sim card… I am not going to pay R80 for something that I can get done for free…. I know, I sound like a proper cheapskate 🙂
It was eventually time to board the bus… I got on board, drank my bottle of water, and ate some chips while inside the bus… the bus left, and I left East London, knowing that business had finally been taken care of!