Home Affairs calls for patience as smart ID offices open

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cape Town – Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni has appealed to South Africans to be patient, and wait for the upcoming announcements and invitations before rushing out to apply for the new smart ID cards.

The Department of Home Affairs today began processing the new smart ID cards at three of its offices.

“People must know that this thing must be managed properly so that we don’t cause issues of stampedes…” said Apleni, who was at the department’s branch in Barrack Street, Cape Town, to assist elderly people and MPs from the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs to acquire smart ID cards.

At the same time, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor today handed over smart ID cards to a number of senior citizens at the Home Affairs Byron Place in Pretoria and Harrison Street in Johannesburg.

While this week the roll-out of the smart ID card will also see Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, MPs, media editors as well as those from other sectors being invited to apply through the three offices in Gauteng and Western Cape, the minister would make further announcements on when members of the public can apply.

Apleni said the process to move all 38 million South Africans with green ID books to the new Smart ID card would likely take six or seven years.

The department would use two methods to call members of the public to apply for the new IDs -- by either inviting each applicant by name, using the details from the National Population Register, or by calling for applications by the month of each applicant’s date of birth.

Those that lose their ID and are sometimes away from the respective application period going on their date of birth, must apply for an ordinary green ID book, said Apleni.

“We really appeal to the public that they must be patient, hence we said your current ID book is still valid -- it has not been nullified and that can happen after we know as a Department of Home Affairs that we have been able to cover each and every citizen of this country,” he said.

Apleni said the department had been testing the new state-of-the-art Smart ID card system since Friday at the three new branches, but that today was the first day that members of the public utilised the system.

Home affairs officials, who are dressed wearing orange scarves and ties, will attend to applicants through a four-part application process.

“When you change you must change the mood and the way you do things,” Apleni commented about the smart new uniforms officials attending to Smart ID card applications are now wearing.

Once an applicant has been invited to apply for a Smart ID card the process starts with the payment of the R140 application fee (free for 16-year-olds), after which members of the public move to a ticketing kiosk where they are given a ticket specifying their place in the queue.

They can then be seated until a public address (PA) system calls their number and advises them which counter to go to -- first to the photo booth and then to the counters where the application process is concluded.

Smart ID cards are then couriered to applicants that live outside of Pretoria, where the cards are printed.

Apleni estimated it would take seven to 14 working days for someone who applied in Cape Town to get their Smart ID card after applying for it, but that this time would be reduced the nearer one is located to Pretoria.

Apleni said the next step is the roll out of the new system – next month the department aims to roll out further facilities at 26 home affairs offices to process Smart IDC cards.

While applicants were being processed in about half an hour today, Apleni estimated that the entire application process will take between 10 and 15 minutes for each applicant when teething problems have been ironed out.  

The department aims to utilise all its 403 offices to roll out the new ID cards, but it is also looking at further points at which members of the public can apply for the new IDs -- by utilising mobile trucks and by partnering with other stakeholders to obtain additional office space.

Apleni said the department aimed to process 100 000 Smart ID card by March next year. – SAnews.gov.za