TWENTY-EIGHT Home Affairs officials have been arrested for fraud.
Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the officials were suspended last month.
They were punished for crimes ranging from the production of fraudulent documents and identity theft in an effort to rid the department of dubious elements.
Dlamini-Zuma said most of the suspended officials were involved in facilitating identity theft.
Asked what the department was doing to stamp out identity theft, Dlamini-Zuma said this was done through a massive ID rollout campaign in which every South African above the age of 16 without an identity document is issued with one.
"In a year or two we will get to a point where we will not issue an ID to anybody above the age of 16 because it is impossible to prove that a person without a birth certificate is indeed a South African," the minister said.
"I for one never had a birth certificate and I used a baptismal certificate. We want to ensure that we have a single entry into the population register and this will only be at birth. This is part of a multi-pronged strategy in dealing with identity theft."
She said the department's national identification system had picked up 400 000 cases of people with multiple IDs and 11800 cases in which two or more people are sharing an identity number.
"A dedicated team has been appointed to eradicate duplicates with priority being given to cases in which an identity number is shared by two or more people," she said.
The duplicates have their origin in the apartheid era when South Africans were in different population registers."