Fake news that the green barcoded identity books are to be phased out by 31 March continues to surface — and Home Affairs is anxious to lay it to rest.
Home Affairs director-general Mkulesi Apleni has reiterated that the reports, which started late last year and are still circulating, are false.
“These reports masquerade as a notice from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and claim that 31 March 2018 is the termination date for using the old green-barcoded ID books. This has an effect of driving citizens, in great numbers, to Home Affairs offices to apply for smart ID cards in panic.”
Home Affairs has previously put the rumours to rest, and wants to do so again. “We are again confronted with the same incorrect reports, from the beginning of January 2018, circulating largely on social media.
“We therefore call upon members of the public to ignore these mischievous messages. Responding with panic affects our systems negatively, thus making it very difficult for us to deliver services as expected, professionally and in the most humane of ways.
“Among others, our offices in the KwaZulu-Natal Province can barely cope with the numbers. As you will indeed understand, these false messages are putting our offices under extreme pressure, unduly, as people rush there in their numbers to get smart ID cards.
“Our offices cannot, and will not turn people away, and therefore they have to battle with long queues, with people standing in the heat, fuming. This is a situation to which we do not want to subject citizens and officials. It is in our interest that citizens should apply for and receive their secured smart ID cards; it is in their interest and in that of the country. But this has to be done systematically.”
When Home Affairs started rolling out the smart ID cards in July 2013, our data showed that 38-million people were in possession of the green-barcoded ID books.
“As informed by studies we had conducted, we had then set out a strategy for a smooth roll-out,” Apleni says.
“For instance we knew that one workstation can handle 28 card applications per day. It takes 17 minutes on average to finalise the capturing of an application. On average, an office with three computers is expected to take in 84 applications per day.
“We were therefore able to estimate how many cards we could produce at a given time with the number of automated offices we had, that were equipped with live capture.”
The department invited first-time applicants and senior citizens to be the first to apply for smart ID cards, based on our capacity at the time. This was later extended as more offices with automated systems came on line, and reinforced by 14 bank branches on eHomeAffairs.
“Of our 411 offices, 184 are currently with live capture, which can process applications for smart ID cards and passports; 227 offices are still to be modernised,” Apleni explains. “We intend to continue rolling out additional smart ID card offices in order to cover the majority of our population in all provinces.
“Discussions with participating banks are continuing to increase capacity, through additional bank branches. Participating banks are Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard.”
He urges citizens with Internet access to apply for their smart ID cards and passports online, using the eHomeAffairs portal, which is accessible on the official Department of Home Affairs website — www.dha.gov.za. They can then finalise their applications in 14 banks of which 13 are in Gauteng and one in Cape Town as pilot sites.
“Part of the challenge we face is that, at present, we are running two systems – a manual system for births, marriages and deaths registrations; and an automated system for smart ID cards and passports.
“We really cannot afford disruptions arising from false messages on termination dates.
“We are working on getting our systems fully automated, and are also developing a mobile solution to support the rollout of smart ID cards.”