More than 300 000 fingerprints unregistered

2011-09-23 12:39

More than 300 000 people issued with identity documents were not on the government’s automated fingerprints database, the home affairs department said today.

These individuals remained exposed to the risk of fraud and corruption through identity theft, home affairs director-general Mkhuseli Apleni said in Pretoria.

The department would soon announce measures to rectify the situation. It was rethinking a plan to publish the details of those affected, as fraudsters may use the information to their advantage.

“We still want to look at this to avoid criminality ... we are also looking to see if there can be a facility within our offices to check whether one is registered or not,” said Apleni.

There were 37 million fingerprint records stored in the automated fingerprint identification system by the end of March – a sub-system of the department’s national identification system.

It was commissioned in 2000 to eliminate manual problems encountered with fingerprint identification, including duplication of ID numbers. Duplicate IDs were considered unlawful in terms of the Identification Act, 1997.

Apleni said other problems in the manual system included poor fingerprint quality, and the fading of ink after years of storage.

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