Citizens rushing to their nearest home affairs offices to get the new smart ID cards should not panic as rumours that the green bar-coded ID books would expire soon were a hoax.
Speaking at the Centurion home affairs in Pretoria yesterday, director-general Mkuseli Apleni assured the public that the green bar-coded ID books were still valid, following false notices from late last year claiming to be from the department that the ID books would expire in March.
“At the time, we had responded swiftly to say such reports are false and do not come from us. We are again confronted with the same incorrect reports, from the beginning of January 2018, circulating largely on social media,” he said.
“We 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 – professionally and in the most humane ways.”
Since the roll-out of the smart ID cards in 2013, 38 million citizens still possessed the green bar-coded IDs.
But rolling out the new cards would take time, as the department was still in talks with participating banks – Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank – to help in processing applications and to increase capacity.
Scores of residents had queued outside the Centurion home affairs yesterday.
Apleni said the Centurion office only had five workstations for the task of processing automated application, with each work station only handling 28 card applications per day.
Despite complaints by customers who had queued for more than five hours, Apleni assured them that once inside, it took an average of 17 minutes to capture and finalise an application.
“Our offices cannot and will not turn people away and therefore they have to battle with long queues; with people standing in the heat. This is a situation to which we do not want to subject citizens and officials.”
But the department will soon introduce a mobile solution to support the rollout of smart ID cards, while enhancing partnership with the banks to speed up the process.
“With the 38 million people we had to cover, it should be clear these messages making the rounds about March 2018, are devoid of truth and should therefore be ignored.”