Info bill will ‘keep our IDs safe’

2012-02-11 15:32

Free State residents say they support the Protection of State Information Bill – because they believe it will stop their ID numbers from being “stolen” by foreigners.

Hundreds of people packed into the Bloemfontein City Hall on Tuesday for the Free State leg of public hearings organised by the National Council of Provinces’ ad hoc committee on the bill.

The Free State leg of the hearings was held in Bloemfontein and Phuthaditjhaba – the committee split into two groups.

Similar hearings were held in the Western and Eastern Cape (LINK).

Raseriti Tau, the ad hoc committee’s chairperson, said the turnout at those province’s hearings “was not ideal” but praised the Free State, saying the province had “outdone itself”.

But Thandiwe Gulwa of Cope’s Women’s Movement warned that a packed hall did not mean the hearing was successful.

She said most of the people who attended the Bloemfontein hearing were councillors and government officials.
“The ordinary people were talking about IDs and service delivery problems,” said Gulwa.

This was confirmed by Elisa Moshe, a Bloemfontein resident. “I am not very sure what the bill is all about, but the way I understand it foreigners will not be able to use our information any more,” she said.

Her sentiment was echoed by Bishop Motlatsi Lephatsoe, who represented the National Interfaith Leaders’ Council.

Lephatsoe said the council supported the bill because once it was passed, “people from outside the country” would have “no chance” to use citizens’ personal information, like ID books or numbers.

After the hearing, Moshe said: “Everything was quite confusing.”

Vuyelwa Maseti, from Bloemfontein, said someone from her community had told her about the hearing and she decided to hear for herself what the bill was about. She was pleased with what she heard. “This bill is right and this meeting was like the olden days when they called us to explain what is going on,” she said.

Reverend Samuel Sekhosana of the Commission on Religious and Traditional Affairs in Welkom, also threw his weight behind the bill.

“If South Africa wants to be somewhere and not regret a September 11, when information fell in the wrong hands, then we need this bill,” Sekhosana said. “Before it happens to us, let’s protect ourselves.”

Nosipho Ntwanambi, the ad hoc committee member who chaired the Bloemfontein hearing, said it was “superb”.

Most of the people who attended, said Ntwanambi, were members of the ANC and the DA. She had to ask ANC members in yellow T-shirts and DA members in blue T-shirts to stop booing or cheering speakers on several occasions.

There was no input from non-governmental organisations, who were a strong presence at the Western Cape and Eastern Cape hearings.

Ntwanambi said this was probably because such organisations were not “that strong” in the Free State, or because they had chosen not to attend.

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