Forget home affairs queues - just pop into bank for ID smart card

2015-10-13 20:00
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Desmond Tutu, shows his new smart identity card, he received in 2013. (File, Rodger Bosch, AFP)

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Desmond Tutu, shows his new smart identity card, he received in 2013. (File, Rodger Bosch, AFP)

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Parliament - Imagine going online to order an identity document, paying by EFT, then popping into the bank at your local mall to collect it?

This is what the Department of Home Affairs hopes will happen if its pilot "e-channel" - launched recently at Standard Bank and First National Bank in downtown Joburg - works.

The department hopes this will resolve the endless queueing outside its 140 offices around the country - and that it will not have to provide more buildings to improve the services provided by its estimated 10 000 employees.

In the 2014/15 period under review, the department printed more than 1.6 million smart cards, which are replacing the green ID books required by South Africans when they turn 16.

This was disclosed in a presentation on an audit of the department to Parliament's home affairs committee.

EFF MP Hlengiwe Hlophe-Maxon was among committee members who expressed concern about whether the department's data would be safe and if it would be possible for bank employees to access an account illegally.

She said sometimes queues in banks were just as lengthy and slow as those at home affairs.

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Fatima Chohan said concerns over security had been dealt in a previous presentation.

But she emphasised that the home affairs employee would use only the bank's space. There would be separate information lines.

"You would see the benefits to us being able to expand our footprint without necessarily having to open offices ourselves," she said.

She said the work itself would be done by home affairs officials, not by banking officials, and would benefit people who did not have the whole day or morning to wait at home affairs offices.

"See the e-channel process as dealing particularly with people who cannot come to our offices. We have to bear in mind the priority that every [South African gets] a smart ID within the next five years."

She said using the banking halls would give the department the opportunity to upgrade and streamline without having to spend too much as would be the case if it had to open new offices.

Read more on:    home affairs  |  local elections 2016

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