Barcoded ID books are not being phased out

Pretoria - Mkuseli Apleni, the director general of home affairs, has condemned the spreading of false reports on social media about the lifespan of the green barcoded identity (ID) books, saying the department's offices have been inundated with enquiries from concerned citizens.

"Among others, our offices in the KwaZulu-Natal province can barely cope with the numbers," he said.

Apleni was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday about the discontinuation of the green barcoded ID book, where he explained that, contrary to rumours circulating, it would not be phased out on March 31, 2018 or any time soon.

He said offices were under extreme pressure, but could not turn people away.

"Therefore, they have to battle with long queues, with people standing in the heat, fuming. This is a situation to which we do not want to subject citizens and officials," he said.

Apleni said the roll out of the smart ID cards - which commenced in July 2013 - had to be done systematically as data showed that 38 million people had green barcoded ID books.

Seven million people were issued with smart ID cards between 2013 and 2017, Apleni said.

"Of our 411 offices, 184 are currently [equipped] with live capture [systems], which can process applications for smart ID cards and passports, 227 offices are still to be modernised. We intend to continue rolling out additional smart ID card offices in order to cover the majority of our population in all provinces," he said.

Online and banks

Apleni said people could use the internet and go to banks to apply for the smart ID cards, saying this would help ease the number of people flocking to their offices who are under the assumption that the green barcoded ID books would be discontinued in the first quarter of 2018.

Thirteen banks are currently assisting with operations in Gauteng, with one pilot site launched in Cape Town. Participating banks include FNB, Absa, Nedbank and Standard Bank and the department is in talks with other banks to increase capacity, he said.

Apleni also said the department was working on developing a mobile solution to support the roll out of the smart ID cards. 

This is the second time that the incorrect rumours have made the rounds. News24 previously reported on the department, condemning the hoax.

READ: Tweets over ID book validity false - Home Affairs

"We therefore call upon members of the public to ignore these mischievous messages. Responding with panic affects our systems negatively, thus making it very difficult for us to deliver services as expected," said Apleni.

He also urged citizens to be vigilant around deals involving tenders, IDs and any other documents, following an increase in the number of fake accounts used to steal money from people.

Apleni went on a walkabout of the Centurion Home Affairs department, listening to concerns from those in the long queues.

An indignant woman told the DG that she had been at the department since 06:00, while another said the bank was not a good alternative as she had to come into the department because the bank was struggling with the system.

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