Nelspruit - Nearly 500 000 people have applied for Identity Documents across South Africa in the last three months in the run-up to the 2009 General Elections on 22 April.
Home Affairs spokesperson Joseph Mahajane said the application process had been speeded up, and that 490 312 people had applied for ID books in the past three months.
"It's now taking only 40 days to receive IDs or passports from the department," he said.
Previously it would take up to three months or even more for applicants to receive their documents.
During January and February, 436 614 documents were issued, but only half of the applicants have collected them.
A total of 233 872 documents still needed to be collected. "We encourage every one who applied for an ID to check in at the office where they made her application," said Mr Mahajane
If the documents are not collected within 12 months, they will be returned to the head office in Pretoria and be kept for another 12 months. "Thereafter, they will be destroyed," he said.
The documents can not be posted as there is a risk that they may get lost.
Applicants also have to collect their documents in person to reduce the risk of identity fraud and theft.
The process of issuing passports is particularly strict.
"Agencies are no longer allowed to apply for passports on behalf of individuals. This is to reduce fraud and corruption. Individuals have to apply for themselves and their fingerprints need to be taken," he said.