ID Smart cards set for South Africa

Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor said during her budget vote speech in Cape Town yesterday the department will be introducing the first smart ID cards to all first-time ID and re-issue applicants in the second quarter of the current financial year.

The Smart ID is a card containing a microchip embedded with biometric security features, including the applicants’ fingerprints, photo and personal information. This information will be gathered and processed by a machine at Home Affairs offices across the country.

“It is a very exciting development for us and will finally enable us to get rid of the old green ID book,” Pandor said. She said a number of countries are already making use of similar cards, but containing different information. “South Africa hopes to make use of the most the sophisticated model.”

Pandor added that the card would be almost impossible to duplicate, limiting the opportunity for fraud. “The department is very concerned with the number of duplicated IDs in South Africa.”

She said these duplications are either caused by theft or registration errors. Mkuseli Apleni, deputy general of the Department of Home Affairs, said the new ID cards will help the department reach its goal of a paperless system. “All the information is submitted electronically and processed by computers, which means less paperwork. This will also improve the turnaround time and applicants will receive their IDs within, only three days, instead of the usual 50 days,” Apleni said.