South Africans will soon have smart ID cards

South African citizens and refugees alike could shortly be issued with “smart identification cards”, replacing the old green bar-coded identity books, Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula said on Thursday.

Addressing reporters in Pretoria on behalf of the government’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster, Nqakula said the first smart ID cards are expected to be issued in 2006.

“The first recipients of the cards will be beneficiaries of the state social development grants.”

He said the cards are part of the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis), which will be an integrated identification system of all citizens and visitors.

He explained that Hanis has three divisions—an automated fingerprint identification system (Afis), system integration and the smart ID card—that will be linked to keep track of citizens’ movements.

“The Department of Home Affairs has began the implementation of Afis and has thus far converted 2,85-million of an estimated 30-million paper-based fingerprint records to the Hanis system,” he said.

He said the Cabinet will soon be approached to endorse further plans with respect to the roll-out of the smart ID cards.

Smart cards will also be issued to about 40 000 legal refugees in South Africa, Nqakula said.

“The new refugee ID card is a highly secure identification tool which provides offline verification (chip and fingerprint) and therefore will be difficult and expensive to forge.”

Nqakula told reporters at the Union Buildings that the intelligence ministry will hold a conference in May at which the development of a national security strategy will be discussed. The first such conference was held in October last year.

He said experts in economics, mining, information technology, environment and human security will attend.

“The outcomes will be integrated into a national security framework to be presented to Cabinet at the July lekgotla [meeting],” he said.—Sapa

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