These are places where forms are filled in to get permission to fill in further forms; Where a receipt for a document is longer than the original document; Where anything outside of predefined norms is not possible or at the very least, the responsibility of some other vague department that you may never get in contact with.
This departmentalising (or, more accurately, compartmentalising) can be quite extreme. My mission to the local Statsdeelkantoor today was show them my birth certificate. This was to show them that I am not merely alive (that has been proven already) but that I was born and, I guess, not created in a factory or laboratory. (Although if I had the correct paperwork for that, it would be fine.)
In think it's all part of bigger job creation scheme. The longer it takes to process anyone, the more people are needed. Proof of this scheme is shown by the entrance and exit doors. They are automatic. Great. Except that a security guard sat behind a computer has to press a button to approve it each time before they open. So they are not, in effect, automatic at all.