'No print': Sisters told by licensing official that ‘hard work’ has faded their fingerprints

2010-03-24 00:00

PRETORIA — Two Pretoria sisters, both with clearly visible fingerprints, have been issued driver’s licences that say “No print” on the back.

Officials at the Akasia licensing office in Pretoria told the sisters on two separate occasions: “It happens that the fingerprints of women who work hard fade over time.”

However, both sisters had fingerprints taken without any problems for their respective applications for an identity document and a passport, at the Home Affairs Department in the same building.

Sonja Carstens, a Beeld reporter, applied for a new driver’s licence earlier this year.

On the previous licence, issued five years ago, her fingerprint is shown on the back. When she went to fetch her new licence, she was told her fingerprints would have to be taken again, since the prints she gave did not correspond with those of five years ago.

Carstens once again had her fingerprints taken. When she fetched her licence a few weeks later, it had been issued without a fingerprint. “The official who helped me said it happens that the fingerprints of women who work hard fade over time. But I didn’t even tell him what my job is,” said Carstens.

On the same day that she applied for her driver’s licence, Carstens applied for a passport, which was issued a few weeks later without any problems.

Carstens’ sister, Marinda Deysel, a hairdresser, applied for her new driver’s licence two weeks ago. On the back of her current driver’s licence, it says “No print”. Deysel said she had been told that “because of my job I don’t have a fingerprint — but I never told him that I’m a hairdresser.

“He played around on the computer and took his own fingerprint every now and then. He never took mine, so if my licence is issued with a fingerprint on the back, I have no idea who it belongs to.”

Fingerprint experts who spoke to Beeld said that fingerprints cannot change. They can be altered by permanent wounds, but the basic pattern never changes.

But it is also possible that the people who took the sisters’ fingerprints five years ago entered the wrong prints into the system.

Console Tleane, a spokesman for Tshwane’s Community Safety Department, was unable to provide an explanation.

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