New SA passport to be introduced in April

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pretoria - South Africans who apply for a new passport from next month will be introduced to a new document with complex security features.

The Department of Home Affairs has, as part of its turnaround programme, employed a multi-pronged approach to improve the security of the South African passport, said Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Thursday.

He was updating media on how the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster was implementing its Programme of Action.

As part of its turnaround strategy, the department of home affairs is working to improve the integrity of enabling documents such as identity documents and passports, closing loopholes previously used by non-South African citizens to apply for a birth certificate and tightening the production process for the identity document.

The department is also introducing an online fingerprint verification system that will eliminate the role of third parties in the application and collection of passports.

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said with the help of the new online verification system, when passports were produced at immigration points, the fingerprints that appear on them would be checked against those that appear on the online system to ensure a match.

"There are many ways that we have devised to intercept elements that are abusing passports," the minister said.

Meanwhile, the department' counter-corruption unit continues to work in partnership with the South African Police Services (SAPS) and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to identify persons involved in corruption and fraud within the department.

During the 2008 / 2009 financial year 66 Home Affairs officials were arrested and a further eighteen suspended on allegations of fraud.

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