Home Affairs rolls out electronic system

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Home Affairs says its one step closer to implementing its new electronic system for identity documents after the process proved to be a success for passports.

"By Friday last week, the system had been implemented in at least 20 of our offices and officials in these offices have changed from the manual way of doing things to electronic processing," the department's Acting Deputy Director General of Civic Affairs Vusi Mkhize told BuaNews on Tuesday.

He said once all the necessary information technology requirements had been met, the department planned to roll out the system to all Home Affairs offices in the country.

The system has the capacity to capture information for both IDs and passports.

However, Mr Mkhize, wished to dispel any misunderstanding about the new system, saying applicants should not think they will do the process on their own.

"That is why it's called live capture. Officials will capture all your information, including verification of figure prints, digital signature and it's quicker than manual capturing," he said.

For security reasons, he said, people will not be applying for IDs on the internet.

But the live capturing ensures that details are immediately verified from the local office instead of going via head office, reducing waiting time by three to five days, he added.

The department wants to ensure that the number of offices with live capture workstations, valued at between R220 000 and R250 000, is increased dramatically before the end of the year.

The idea to capture data electronically was mooted earlier last month when Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma visited Home Affairs offices in the Free State where she was communicating the department's turn- around strategy.

Home Affairs officials have come under fire in recent years for allegedly capturing inaccurate information in IDs while in some cases people were declared dead while they were still alive.

But the turn-around strategy has seen some drastic improvements with South Africans now able to verify their marriage or live status online.

"It is very clear that Home Affairs does need to ensure we can capture data electronically," Minister Dlamini Zuma said at the time.

In her tenure, she wants to see a Home Affairs Department that renders all services online.

"Of course with the global economic situation we may not be able to move as fast as we would like but we will be moving to greater online services.

"We would eventually want to move towards becoming a paperless department. This is our ultimate objective," she commented.

Home Affairs will be launching a campaign shortly that will continue until 2011 where every child aged between 0 and 14 years without a birth certificate will be registered. This would ensure that children are captured in the population register before they apply for an ID document.