Mandela Day launch for smart ID cards

4 July 2013

South Africa’s new smart ID cards will officially be launched on former President Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July in order to honour his legacy, according to Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor.

“President Mandela’s lifelong struggle for freedom and human rights for South Africans and oppressed people all over the world was, at one level, dedicated to acknowledging the fundamental worth of each and every human being,” Pandor said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday.

The department will hand over the new smart IDs on the day to President Jacob Zuma; Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe; former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Winnie Madikezela Mandela; Sophie de Bruyn; Andrew Mlangeni; Dennis Goldberg; Ahmed Kathrada and a few senior citizens of in the 80-90 age group, who are termed the “Mandela Generation”.

Home Affairs will record the biometric details and photographs of the eminent South Africans over the next few days as part of the process of introducing the smart card.

‘Honouring the Mandela Generation’

“We are prioritising the Mandela Generation, those veterans in their 80s and 90s whom we wish to honour while they are with us in person, and while they can reflect with us on the roles they played in opposing the various apartheid measures that denied South Africans their rightful place in our society,” she said.

Twenty-seven regional offices around the country are currently being prepared to roll out the new IDs.

Pandor said Home Affairs was trying to ensure that businesses, banks, the insurance industry and other partners have the necessary equipment to verify smart ID cards.

“In terms of delivery to the broader public, we will in due course announce plans to roll out to the general public, focusing on young South Africans as first-time applicants for identity documents, as well as senior citizens,” she said.

Pandor explained that in order to avoid a barrage of applications, applicants will be invited to in stages, according to their dates of birth.

Cutting down on fraudulent IDs

“We must stress that it will take between six and eight years before all South Africans have Smart ID Cards.

“We appeal to everyone to be patient and to allow us to phase in this change efficiently,” she said, adding that her department will work hard to expand the number of offices to process applications for the smart card ID.

South Africans still be in possession of the green bar-coded IDs will still be able to use them for voting in the 2014 elections.

According to the department, the smart cards aim to cut down on the fraudulent use of fake or stolen IDs, as the department says the new cards will be almost impossible to forge.

The new smart ID card will have a microchip, the specifications for which cannot be disclosed for security reasons. The chip will house the necessary biometric data unique to every individual. The information on the chip will be laser-engraved to prevent tampering.

The new IDs will be processed in Pretoria and thereafter sent out to applicants. The process is said to take between five to 10 days.