18 August 2010
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs is working on rolling out an online Identity Document (ID) verification system that is expected to cut down on document fraud in the country.
The project will give the South African Social Security Agency, banks, insurers and retailers, among others, real-time access to the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) in order to verify the identities of current and prospective clients.
Hanis stores South African citizens’ ID numbers, fingerprints and photos.
Accessing Hanis will enable these sectors to conduct on-the-spot verification of the fingerprints of clients against the information stored in Hanis.
“This will make it difficult for people who have fraudulent IDs to use them,” Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni told a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday.
According to Apleni, the system will be up and running by the end of this year.
The department signed a memorandum of understanding with the South African Banking Risk Information Centre in this regard in March.
This comes in light of the escalating ID fraud. On Monday, the police arrested three men in connection with 588 fraudulent IDs found hidden in a roof of a house in Eldorado Extension 9 in Johannesburg.
The police were looking for a man in connection for attempted murder. When they searched his home, they found the fraudulent IDs hidden in his roof. The man and two others were arrested.
Brigadier Govindsamy Mariemuthoo of the Gauteng police said their rapid response unit also found two car radios and suspected stolen car parts hidden in the suspect’s bedroom. The Police also confiscated 1.5 kilograms of dagga.
“When they searched the house they found the ID books wrapped in plastic in the ceiling. The suspect told us that he bought them from an official at the Department of Home Affairs in Roodepoort. The suspect said he was planning to sell them,” Mariemuthoo said.
The police suspect that the man was selling false ID books to people who crossed the South African border illegally.
Mariemuthoo said their forensic team would check his mobile phone calls to see if he had communicated with any Home Affairs officials.
Welcoming the arrest, Apleni warned officials who were teaming up with criminals that they would face the full might of the law. The department would also conduct its own investigation to find out how the IDs fell into the hands of the suspects.
“The arrests once more underline our conviction that working together with our law enforcement agencies, we can make serious inroads in our fight against crime and corruption,” Apleni said.
The suspects, who are South African citizens, were due to appear in the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto on Wednesday.