The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) aims to be ready to introduce the first of the new smart identity (ID) cards to all first-time applicants by December, Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Friday.
The new smart cards, which would replace all existing green ID books, would align with the department’s development of a new integrated information technology system linking its refugee, national population register and movement control databases.
The DHA, which rolled out a R5-million smart card pilot phase during April to test its accuracy, aimed to start recalling existing green ID books within the next 18 months to two years.
The Minister stated that, during the replacement phase, citizens would be required to apply for the smart card at a regional DHA office. However, eventually, citizens would be able to apply online, only visiting a home affairs office to verify fingerprints.
Dlamini-Zuma previously indicated in her budget speech that the new technology would enable the department to deliver the new ID within a few days and print between 10-million and 15-million cards a year.
The system, which would capture the biometric and biographic details of all South Africans and foreign nationals, would enable paperless, efficient and accurate online capturing through a ‘live capture’ system, effectively eliminating manual processes and the likelihood of fraud and error.
The duplication of identity cards would also be eliminated through a number of security features embedded in the card. These included authentication through a card reader, an imprint of the holder’s fingerprint, a permanent image of the cardholder, a microchip holding the citizen’s information, a barcode and several other ‘invisible’ features.
Speaking at a business breakfast, hosted by the New Age and the SABC in Sandton on Friday, the Minister stated that any party requiring proof of identity should acquire card readers, at a cost of about R100, to scan the card’s microchip and authenticate identities.
She noted that, while local materials and local companies would be used for materials relating to the printing of the card, for security and efficiency purposes, the department would develop, own, roll-out and maintain the new integrated system and smart card IDs project itself.
The Government Printing Works would be responsible for printing the cards.