Home affairs stops manual issuing of passports
The Department of Home Affairs says it is phasing out manual passports in a bid to stamp out crime and corruption.
This week‚ 15 unused‚ legitimate South African passports were seized from an al-Shabab courier in Tanzania. The passports bore the photographs of people on the country’s watch list and one bore a striking resemblance to the “white widow” Samantha Lewthwaite.
Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize announced in her department’s budget speech that manually processed passports will no longer be issued‚ and said that people will now have to apply for their passports at one of the country’s 179 live capture sites where photographs and fingerprints are digitally recorded.
Questioned about the Tanzanian passports at a media briefing earlier in the day‚ Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni said smart card IDs and passports had been introduced to phase out fraudulent passport use but up until now‚ manual and digital processes had been running alongside each other.
This system where fingerprints were taken on paper and “the photo is taken under a tree somewhere” created a “gap” where fraud could be committed.
Mkhize said the department was strengthening its fight against corruption.
“IDs‚ passports and birth certificates have high value and the Department is under
constant attack by local and international criminal syndicates‚” she said.
She said they would strengthen the work of their counter corruption unit which had since its launch facilitated 166 arrests for fraud and other crimes‚ made up of 85 officials and 81 members of the public‚ working either alone or for syndicates.
Mkhize said the old National Population register would be replaced with a National Identity System‚ as part of her department’s modernisation process. Part of this requires the replacement of 38 million green-barcoded ID books with secure smart ID cards. So far 6.8 million of these cards have been issued.