Pretoria - The Department of Home Affairs will relocate its head office from Waltloo to the city centre, a move that will result in it taking the services it offers closer to the people.
The department's Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said a lease had been negotiated for new headquarters at Hallmark in Pretoria.
"In line with government's view that government offices should be located within the city centre as part of efforts of building confidence in the city centre while encouraging economic investment into the city, the Department of Home Affairs headquarters will soon be relocated from Waltloo to Hallmark in the city centre," he said.
Relocating the offices would result in services being taken to the doorstep of the people, especially those who work in the city centre, Apleni noted.
Plans for the move, which will take place in phases, had been finalised and will begin on 17 November. The process is expected to be completed by 22 December 2011.
Apleni also announced that the online fingerprint verification system - a joint project by the department and the South African Banking Risk Centre - would be launched next week.
"The objective of the project is to protect the identity of South African citizens while creating a platform in which both the Home Affairs Department and the banks can jointly help in the national effort of pushing back the frontiers of fraud and corruption," he explained, without giving away too many details.
Meanwhile, the department has made plans to facilitate the smooth movement of thousands of Zion Christian Church (ZCC) members who are expected to attend a ZCC Convention in Bulawayo this weekend.
Approximately 70 000 ZCC members travelling in about 510 buses are scheduled to cross into Zimbabwe.
"In consultation with the Home Affairs Department, SAPS, SANDF, Customs, and SARS, the government agreed to assist in the facilitation of the smooth movement of these ZCC members through Beit Bridge to travel to Zimbabwe," Apleni said.
The department has deployed 98 additional immigration and civic officers to assist those already stationed at Beit Bridge to assist with the operation. Members of SAPS, SANDF, SARS and Customs will also assist them.
A temporary transit facility has also been opened at Musina. The facility has been equipped with 40 work stations linked to the Home Affairs Movement Control System.
"Our plan is to ensure there is no blockage caused at the border gate due to this large movement of persons in and out of the country. Once these ZCC members have been processed at Musina, they will then be escorted by the SAPS and SANDF to Beit Bridge for crossing into Zimbabwe," he added.