Smart ID printers named after heroines

31 July 2013

President Jacob Zuma has named the Government Printing Works machines that will print South Africa’s new smart ID cards after the four women who led the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings in protest against apartheid’s pass laws.

Speaking at the Government Printing Works in Pretoria after receiving his new smart ID card on Tuesday, Zuma said the women of today can learn from the women of 1956.

“We are thus truly pleased that this Government Printing Works now houses important equipment named after our heroines and leaders – Sophie de Bruyn, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa.”

During Women’s Month, starting on Thursday, South Africans would be “remembering the march on the Union Buildings by more than 20 000 women, who were tired of the pass laws and the impact they had on their lives,” Zuma said.

“The pass laws dictated where people should live, where they should work, where their children could go to school, based on the colour of their skin. Carrying a pass then was an insult and an affront to the dignity of our people.”

Roll-out over a number of years

The Department of Home Affairs says the roll-out of the smart ID cards is likely to take a number of years. The department’s offices are currently being fitted with the technology necessary to process the cards.

By the end of the year, the department wants to have 70 offices available to the public to receive applications for the smart IDs.

Containing microchips embedded with biometric data unique to each individual, and with the information laser-engraved on the chip to prevent tampering, the new IDs will be near impossible to forge, according to Home Affairs.

Besides cutting down on identity theft and fraud, the smart IDs will speed up the process of establishing a modern, reliable population register. People will also be able to use them to vote, starting with next year’s elections.

The cost of the new IDs will be the same as the amount paid for the green bar-coded IDs, which currently cost R140. IDs are free for first-time applicants.

Earlier this month, former presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk also received their new IDs.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, former Speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala, struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni and Sophie de Bruyn – one of the leaders of the 1956 march – also received their smart cards on Mandela’s birthday on 18 July, along with a number of people over 100 years old.