The Department of Home Affairs has started issuing the new smart ID cards, giving priority to former Presidents and other stalwarts of the liberation struggle.
But it will take about eight years for everybody to get the card. Home Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor explained that the card has good security features, including materials which prevent tampering. Personalisation with laser engraving of personal details and photographs makes the new card extremely difficult to forge or tamper with.
The new card will take less time to produce than the green barcoded identity document. It is estimated that the card will take five to 10 days to produce, a marked improvement on the 49 days it takes to produce the ID book.
In issuing the card, the department has prioritized senior citizens of the Nelson Mandela generation – those of 80 to 90 years of age. They were issued with their smart cards on 18 July - Nelson Mandela Day. The new card will now be given to first-time applicants and people who have lost their ID documents at offices that have the capacity to issue the new cards.
“In order to avoid a rush, applicants will be invited to our offices in stages, according to their dates of birth.
“We appeal to everyone to be patient and to allow us to phase in this change efficiently. We will work hard to expand the number of offices able to process applications for the Smart Card ID,” said Minister Pandor.
This month, the department will honour the women who led the heroic march against the pass laws in 1956. “On Women’s Day, August 9, we will commission four machines to produce the Smart Card IDs. They will be named after Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Sophie de Bruyn and Rahima Moosa in honour of the brave and selfl women who led the Women’s March on the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956,” Minister Pandor said. Each machine has the capacity to produce 1 000 cards an hour and they work 24 hours a day. The department spent R40 million on the machines.
The department started by using two offices in the Western Cape and another in Gauteng to process applications for the Smart Card ID. By the end of August, the department is expected to have 27 offices around the country able to process ap- plication of the Smart Card ID. The cur- rent green barcoded ID document will be phased out over time as more people get the Smart Card ID.