Pandor to unveil smart ID cards on Mandela's birthday

The new smart ID cards. (Gallo)

The new smart ID cards. (Gallo)

As part of the launch, cards will be handed over to a number of eminent people including President Jacob Zuma.

Others who will receive the cards on July 18 include Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, former presidents of the republic, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Dennis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada, as well as a few senior citizens aged 80 to 90 years, who have been named the "Mandela generation".

Pandor said by adopting the smart ID card system, South Africa joins a handful of progressive countries around the world that have similar solutions.

"With this system we are consolidating the process that our democratic dispensation launched in 1994 to restore the identity, citizenship and dignity of all South Africans.

"The pass laws are indeed past laws as we use technology and the imperatives of our Constitution to restore the dignity of all South Africans."

"It is equally impressive technologically, with our own government printing works taking on the exciting assignment of producing this on government's behalf," said Pandor.

She said the card body is secure and durable; made of quality polycarbonate materials, which will prevent tampering.

It also has two forms of security features: the first being physical security features on the card body such as holograms, laser engraving and personal details, which will provide visual verification of the card and easily identify tampered cards; and the second being logical security features, which include fingerprint biometrics and biographic data which is embedded on the 80KB card chip.

Difficult to forge or tamper with
Pandor said personalisation with laser engraving of demographic details and photographs makes the new card "extremely" difficult to forge or tamper with.

In terms of service, Pandor said the new card will take less time to produce than paper documents and the security features are almost impenetrable.

"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.

"This means that the private sector itself will benefit from knowing exactly who they are transacting with. In a globalised world and economy, this system builds confidence at home and abroad," she said.

The department will commission four machines that will produce the smart ID cards – each machine produces 1 000 cards per hour, on August 9. The machines will be named after female struggle icons – Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Sophie de Bruyn and Rahima Moosa, who led the women's march to the Union Building on August 9 1956, as part of honouring them.

There will be three regional offices issuing the cards in July; two of them will be in Gauteng and the third in Cape Town.
These will be extended to 27 across the country in August.

Pandor said in terms of delivering the cards to the broader public, they will start with young South Africans as first-time applicants for identity documents, as well as senior citizens.

Refugees to receive smart IDs
"In order to avoid a rush, applicants will be invited to our offices in stages, according to their dates of birth."

Pandor said the process will take between six and eight years before all South Africans have smart ID cards. She said the government will work hard to expand the number of offices able to process applications for the smart ID card.

The entire process of issuing the card will be between five and 10 days, which is a significant improvement on the current 47 days.

Refugees will also receive a smart ID card, although theirs will be slightly different from that of South Africans.

Sello Mmakau, deputy director general for information services at Home Affairs said the Independent Electoral Commission will accept both the ID book and smart card during next year's general elections.

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