Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni has assured the public that the green bar-coded ID is still valid and will not expire this year.
Speaking to journalists in Centurion‚ Apleni said there had been a false warning that the ID would be terminated on March 31.
“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 ways‚” Apleni said.
“Among others‚ our offices in KwaZulu-Natal can barely cope with the numbers. As you 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.”
Apleni said Home Affairs offices do not have the capacity to handle floods of applications for smart ID cards.
Home Affairs first introduced smart ID cards in July 2013‚ making them available to first-time ID applicants in order to manage the process efficiently. At the time‚ there were 38 million people with a green bar-coded ID.
“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 therefore were 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‚” he said.
Between 2013 and 2017‚ 7 million smart cards were issued.
Apleni said of the 411 Home Affairs offices in the country‚ 184 are currently equipped with live capture‚ which can process applications for smart ID cards and passports‚ 227 offices are still to be upgraded.
“Discussions with participating banks are continuing to increase capacity‚ through additional bank branches. Participating banks are Absa‚ FNB‚ Nedbank and Standard Bank.”
Apleni said the department is liaising with National Treasury on issuing the smart cards in banks to ensure that the move complies with all relevant state regulations.
He added that the department could not put a timeline to when the green bar-coded ID would be totally phased out. This is because the issuing of smart IDs requires the department to have an efficient automated system in all its offices‚ a requirement that is being addressed over time.
“There is no expiry date for the green bar-coded ID. It is valid until the time we sort out everything we need to deal with [in issuing the smart ID]‚” he said.
Penwell Dlamini -TimesLIVE