25 July 2013
South Africa’s new smart ID card demonstrates again what the country is capable of achieving, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said after receiving his new ID from Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor in Cape Town on Thursday.
“Those who used to have to carry heavy dompasses are more aware of just how far we have travelled,” Tutu said, referring to the passbook which black people were obliged to carry during apartheid.
He added that the new smart card would make it more difficult to create false identity documents or driver’s licences.
“One of the reasons we pay such high fees for British visas is because people used to be able to undermine [the old South African passports] and they couldn’t trust the fact that this was you,” Tutu said.
Pandor said it had been an honour to have Tutu and other South Africans that had played a key role in the anti-apartheid struggle – including former President Nelson Mandela – receive the country’s first smart ID cards.
The Department of Home Affairs expects to start rolling the new IDs out to the public within the next three months.
The public will shortly be invited to apply for the smart ID cards, with applications to be made in accordance with applicant’s month of birth and with an initial focus on the elderly and on those applying for an ID for the first time.
The department wants to get at least 27 offices fitted with the necessary technology to process the cards, and Pandor said she expected the public application process to start in October.
“We don’t want to rush because it will overwhelm us in terms of all the services that we provide,” she said.
She added that the department aimed to have rolled out the first 100 000 smart ID cards by early next week and aimed to roll out all the new ID cards within six to eight years.
Smart ID cards will be issued free of charge to 16-year-olds who are first-time applicants, while all other applicants will be expected to pay R140.