Issuing of smart cards streamlined
Home Affairs has partnered with major banks in a deal that will allow people to apply and collect their smart ID cards at their nearest branch. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said yesterday the deal was part of the department’s plans to expand its footprint and make it accessible to all citizens.
Gigaba and Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane were briefing the media in parliament to expand on issues raised by President Jacob Zuma in his state of the nation address.
Gigaba said First National Bank and Standard Bank had signed a memorandum of understanding with his department to start piloting the project from April.
Talks with Nedbank were at an advanced stage, while Absa Bank was the only bank that had not made a commitment.
The department would set up kiosks in branches that would accept applications and issue the smart ID cards.
“A person will be able to go to a Home Affairs kiosk within the bank and submit their application,” Gigaba said.
“They will take their biometric photograph, automated fingerprints and electronic signature, and that is compiled into an electronic package and deposited at Home Affairs.
“The person will be able to collect the smart ID card back at the bank where they applied,” he said.
The department has 403 offices countrywide of which 140 are dedicated smart ID card offices.
Gigaba said there were plans to also open similar kiosks at Post Office branches.
The process to issue smart ID cards has not been smooth.
A number of people have complained about being turned back from Home Affairs offices as officials claimed the network, which is used to capture smart card data, was always down.
Gigaba acknowledged the problem, saying they were working with the service provider to fix it.
He also responded to concerns that South Africa’s stringent immigration laws were harming the tourism industry.
He ruled out relaxing the regulations, saying the security of the country was paramount.
“We have indicated that [immigration] regulations are not cast in stone.
“In the instance that there are new facts, very compelling facts that come up, we will review them.
“But there is one thing we won’t do – we won’t relax the requirements for any person coming to South Africa to apply in person.
“They have to apply in person. We do the same when we travel to their countries,” he said.
Gigaba repeated his stance on the UK visa debacle, saying South Africa wanted complete visa exemption for all its citizens travelling to that country.