Quicker, safer customs clearance

30 April 2010

South Africa has launched a new system, capable of scanning 65 security features in a passport in less than 15 seconds, to facilitate quicker, safer passage of tourists in and out of the country.

The South African Revenue Service is piloting the state-of-the-art Movement Control System at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, and will soon roll it out at 33 priority ports of entry countrywide.

The Movement Control System (MCS) acts as an early warning system, tracking visitors with false passports and visas and detecting if a person is sought by the police or Interpol.

It also allows for quick processing of documents at South Africa’s ports of entry, removing the irritation of waiting in queues after long flights.

Linked to police, government agencies

Barry Hore, head of IT at the South African Revenue Service (Sars), said the MCS could scan at least 65 security features contained in a passport in less than 15 seconds, and store all the information that was scanned.

Airports Company South Africa’s George Frost said the system, which is linked to police stations and other government security agencies, picked up seven visa hits and one false passport in the first week of its operation.

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, after inspecting the system at OR Tambo International on Wednesday, said it was one of a series of interventions her department would be implementing to facilitate the movement of soccer fans during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Queues ‘drastically reduced’

Immigration Officer Boitumelo Mokobi praised the new system for the time it saved when processing arrivals and departures. He said queues had been drastically reduced, as it now took him between 10 and 15 seconds to check a passenger’s passport.

“The system is really amazing because I spend less time on each passenger,” Mokobi said.

Sars is rolling out the system in conjunction with the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, and the South African Police Service.

Source: BuaNews