The department had responded swiftly, announcing the reports as false, and did not come from Home Affairs
RESIDENTS in Kimberley and the Northern Cape have once again been given the reassurance that their old green barcoded ID books will not expire in March.
Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said during a media briefing in Pretoria yesterday that the reports, which first appeared at the end of last year, on the lifespan of the green barcoded ID books were false.
“These reports masqueraded as a notice from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and claim that March 31, 2018 would be the termination date for using the old green barcoded ID books. This had the effect of driving citizens in great numbers to Home Affairs offices to apply for smart ID cards in panic.”
He added that the department had responded swiftly, announcing the reports as false, and did not come from Home Affairs.
“Since the beginning of this month, we have again been confronted with the same incorrect reports, which are being circulated largely on social media. We call upon members of the public to ignore these mischievous messages.”
Apleni added that the public’s panic response had affected the department’s systems negatively and some of the offices could barely cope with the numbers.
“These false messages are putting our offices under extreme pressure, as people rush there in their numbers to get smart ID cards.”
Apleni said his offices could not and would not turn people away, and therefore they had to battle with long queues, with people standing in the heat, fuming.
“This is a situation to which we do not want to subject citizens and officials. It is in our interest that citizens should apply for and receive their secured smart ID cards; it is in their interest and in that of the country. But this has to be done systematically.”
When the smart ID was rolled out in July 2013, an estimated 38 million people were in possession of the green barcoded ID books.
Apleni said the department therefore adopted a strategy for a smooth roll-out of smart IDs.
“We invited first-time applicants and senior citizens to be the first to apply for smart ID cards, free of charge.”
Of the department’s 411 offices, 184 are currently equipped with live capture systems, which can process applications for smart ID cards and passports, while 227 offices still need to be modernised.
Discussions with participating banks are also continuing to increase capacity, through additional bank branches. Participating banks are Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard.
“We encourage those with access to the internet to apply for their smart ID cards and passports online, using the eHomeAffairs portal, which is accessible on the official Department of Home Affairs website –
www.dha.gov.za, however, they can only finalise their applications in 14 banks, of which 13 are in Gauteng and only one in Cape Town as pilot sites.”