Home Affairs issues smart IDs to the elderly

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pretoria - “I feel very proud to receive my new ID,” 102-year-old gogo Esther Mabitsela said upon receiving her new smart card ID.

Mabitsela is among the elderly persons who received their smart ID card from Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday.

She joined a list of eminent South Africans who have already received their smart IDs, including former President Nelson Mandela, President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The handover of Mabitsela and several others’ smart ID cards took place at the Home Affairs’ Byron Place office in Pretoria, which is one of the three offices to be unveiled today by the department.

“We are opening three offices that we’ve totally renovated to be able to accept applications for the smart ID cards. We had indicated that we will be open to the public once the offices were properly outfitted with the live capture system and once they have the servers that are connected to our national database. Now that we’ve done that with three offices, we are able to announce their opening today,” said Pandor.

The other two offices that have been renovated are the Home Affairs office in Harrison street, Johannesburg, and the Barrack Street office in Cape Town.

The opening of the three offices in Gauteng and the Western Cape are part of a national plan by the department to unveil more offices across the country to roll-out the smart ID cards to the public.

The smart ID card will help to combat identity theft, fraudulent activities related to driver’s licences and social grants, among others.

By the end of November this year, the department intends opening 26 more offices countrywide, which are currently being renovated.

“We will then have a total of 29 offices before the end of this year,” she said.

The department was piloting the system to ensure that it can in the future deal with larger numbers of applications.

“We are starting with a pool of around 100 000. This will be made up by first time applicants … (the) young people. We are also targeting our senior citizens. We believe that when we’ve gone through this pilot pool, we’ll be certain that we are absolutely system ready for the population of South Africa,” said Pandor.

Peter Mabitsela, one of Gogo Mabitsela’s nine children, said he was happy that his mother had received the new ID.

“We didn’t expect that they would call her to be a part of those that receive their smart ID cards first,” he said, adding that he had brought in his blind mother to come apply for the new ID last week.

The department receives help from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) -- which was established to administer the application; approval and payment of social grants including the grant for older persons – to identify elderly people who should receive smart cards.

“We are thankful to democracy for the life we now have, things have improved,” Mabitsela told SAnews.

Mabitsela, who lives in Attridgeville, will celebrate her 103rd birthday on 10 November.

David Gela, Malebo Masoka and Ouma Seloke were among the other elderly people to get their IDs.

The roll-out of the smart ID card is part of efforts aimed at consolidating the restoration of national identity, citizenship and dignity to all South Africans.

Pandor called on the public to wait for the department to invite them to apply for their IDs in accordance with their dates of birth. - SAnews.gov.za