Smart ID roll-out plan announced


Home Affairs minister Naledi Pandor has outlined the department’s smart ID card roll-out plan that is set to commence on Nelson Mandela Day, 18 July.

“We will officially introduce the smart ID card on Madiba’s birthday with the handing over of smart ID cards to president Jacob Zuma, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, former presidents of Republic of SA, archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikezela Mandela, Sophie de Bruyn, Andrew Mlangeni, Dennis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada, and a few senior citizens of 80 to 90 years of age, who we have termed the ‘Mandela Generation’,” said Pandor.

She noted the smart ID card puts the “indignity, humiliation and marginalisation” of the Apartheid pass laws behind citizens, utilising technology to restore dignity to South Africans.

Pandor said the deployment of the smart ID cards will also be used to honour important women in SA’s history. “On Women’s Day, 9 August, we will commission four machines that will produce the smart ID cards and will name them Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Sophie de Bruyn and Rahima Moosa in honour of the brave and selfless women who led the women’s march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1957.”

Roll-out to the general public will start with first-time identity document applicants and senior citizens. Thereafter, South Africans will be invited to Department of Home Affairs (DHA) offices in stages according to dates of birth. Pandor said more information will be announced at a later stage.
“We must stress that it will take between six and eight years before all South Africans have smart ID cards. 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 ID card.”

Private sector plus

Pandor said the smart ID card gives South Africans a reason to be proud of the progress the country is making as a society and economy, in addition to presenting benefits to the private sector.
“One of the phases for us to work through is that of ensuring that businesses, banks, the insurance industry and other partners have the necessary equipment to verify smart ID cards,” she said. “This means that the private sector itself will benefit from knowing exactly who they are transacting with.”

Reiterating the advanced security features of the smart ID cards, Pandor noted the technology used is impressive and makes the card “extremely difficult” to forge or tamper with.
“Physical security features on the card body [include] holograms, laser engraving and personal details which will provide visual verification of the card and easily identify tampered cards, while logical security features include fingerprint biometrics and biographic data which is embedded on the 80KB card chip.”

In addition to improved security, the smart ID cards will take less time to produce than the traditional green ID books, said Pandor. The preparation of 27 regional DHA offices that will start issuing the cards is currently under way.