23 March 2009
South Africans who apply for a new passport from April 2009 will be introduced to a new document with complex security features.
The Department of Home Affairs is taking a number of steps to improve the security of the South African passport, Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in Pretoria earlier this month.
Integrity of documents
As part of its turnaround strategy, the department is working to improve the integrity of “enabling documents” such as identity documents and passports, closing loopholes previously used by non-South African citizens to apply for a birth certificates, and tightening the production process for South African identity documents.
The department is also introducing an online fingerprint verification system that will eliminate the role of third parties in the application and collection of passports.
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that, with the help of the new online verification system, when passports were produced at immigration points, the fingerprints that appeared on them would be checked against those that appeared on the online system to ensure a match.
“There are many ways that we have devised to intercept [people who] are abusing passports,” she said.
Rooting out corruption
Meanwhile, the department’s counter-corruption unit continues to work in partnership with the South African Police Service and National Intelligence Agency to identify those within the department involved in corruption and fraud.
During the 2008/09 financial year, 66 Home Affairs officials were arrested and a further 18 suspended on allegations of fraud.