Transcript copy: Speaking notes for weekly media briefing by Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni
1 Mar 2012
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, may we take this opportunity to express our appreciation for you having taken time to attend the Home Affairs weekly briefing. We did not in the past two weeks host our normal weekly briefings due to other national priorities such as the delivery of the State of the Nation Address and Ministerial Cluster Media Briefing. We will however, from now henceforth endeavour to hold these briefings as per schedule. We hope you will accept our apologies in this regard.
Today, we have a range of issues on our agenda including, amongst others, an announcement on tariff increases for the new financial year 2012/13, the enforcement of the registration of babies within 30 days of birth, processes related to the late registration of births, the capturing of fingerprints of citizens on the Home Affairs National Identification System, updates on the move to the new Home Affairs headquarters in the Pretoria city centre and the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre following the Port Elizabeth High Court decision of 16 February 2012 and well as the status of duplicate IDs.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Meeting on a Comprehensive Stategy for Angolan refugees
As you know Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma yesterday hosted a meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Pretoria.
The meeting deliberated on the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategy for Angolan Refugees as adopted at the 61st Session of the UNHCR in November 2011. Indeed, amongst others, the meeting mandated host countries to develop country strategies to address the issue of Angolan refugees currently resident in these countries.
Upon finalisation of such a strategy by the South African government, the Minister will make an announcement on the way forward for Angolan refugees resident in South Africa.
The meeting was attended by amongst others, the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees, Sanda Simbimbi, Minister Joao Baptista Kussumua from the Republic of Angola, Minister Ferdinand Kambere Kalumbi from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Minister Rosalia Nghidinwa from the Republic of Namibia, Minister Charles Zacharie Bowao from the Republic of Congo, Minister Kennedy Sakeni from the Republic of Zambia and Deputy Secretary Kwena Rammekwa from the Republic of Botswana.
Tariff increases 2012/13
As you know, government will begin its new financial year on 1 April 2012. To this end, although government is not a profit making organisation, all departments that render services to the public with cost implications announce and revise new tariffs for these services on an ongoing basis
We are pleased to announce that Home Affairs will not be increasing tariffs for such enabling documents as identity documents (IDs), birth and death certificates as well as passports for the 2012/13 financial year. The last tariffs were introduced in 2011 resulting in, amongst others, the cost for the second copy of IDs increasing to R140 and that of passports to R400.
We are satisfied that the costs of producing these documents, in a manner that ensures not only their integrity but the security of each of our citizens, are being met by the tariffs currently in place. A review of tariffs will be undertaken at the end of the forthcoming financial year and an appropriate announcement will be made.
The enforcement of registration of babies within 30 days and late registration of birth processes
Again, members of the media will be aware that the Department of Home Affairs has since March 2010 been running the National Population Registration Campaign (NPR) which aims to, amongst others:
Encourage the registration of babies within 30 days of delivery;
Encourage all 16 year olds and above to apply for IDs; and
To bring the current process of late registration of birth to an end.
The campaign has been achieving significant successes in terms of changing the national psyche so that parents and caregivers register their new babies within 30 days of birth. We saw a great improvement in the number of 16 year olds applying for IDs in 2012 when an estimated 600 000 young people applied for their IDs for the first time.
To further ensure that the successes of this Campaign is consolidated, we also took amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths as well as the Citizenship Acts to Parliament in the 2010/11 financial year. These were assented into law by the President of the Republic, Jacob Zuma in 2011. We are currently finalising the regulations that will govern the implementation of these Amendments.
We must however remember that the registration of babies within 30 days of delivery is currently legislated in our Births and Deaths Registration Act. In this regard, failure to register the births of children within 30 days of delivery is to break the law. In addition, once the regulations are finalised, penalties will be imposed on parents and caregivers who have not registered children within 30 days of delivery.
Although a further announcement will be made on the finalisation of the regulations for the Amendments, we would like to appeal to all parents and caregivers to comply with the law to register babies within 30 days of delivery.
This must be seen within the context of securing the country’s National Population Register. In this regard, the Department is striving to ensure that birth is the only entry point to the population register.
This will therefore affect the current processes of late registration of birth (LRB). If all new babies are registered within 30 days there will, in due course, be no need for citizens to apply for late registration of birth.
Again, although a further announcement will be made in due course as to how the new processes for late registration of birth will be implemented, we want to inform citizens that LRB applications will henceforth only be accepted under exceptional circumstances. And again, if child births are registered within 30 days of delivery, these exceptional circumstances will be few and far between.
Capturing fingerprints on the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS)
The Department, in November last year 2011, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) on the online fingerprint verification system.
Through this, participating banks, are verifying the identity of their clients using a fingerprint reader. The fingerprint image is communicated to the Department’s Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) and the fingerprint is verified as a positive or negative match. This is aimed at ensuring the security of, not only a citizen’s ID but their bank accounts and financial transactions through banks.
We reiterate our conviction that the launch last year of the online fingerprint verification system will go a long way in contributing to national efforts aimed at pushing back the frontiers of fraud and corruption.
Failure to verify your fingerprint on the system does not necessarily imply ID theft of fraud but rather that the fingerprints on record at the Department of Home Affairs systems may not be clear or easily readable. We have observed that in the transferring of paper records to electronic ones, fingerprints that were taken a long time ago or were not properly stored may have diminished in quality and clarity which could affect the verification of the fingerprint.
In this regard, we appeal to those citizens and bank clients whose fingerprints cannot be verified on the online fingerprint verification system to approach the nearest Home Affairs offices to have their fingerprints re-taken to enable them to transact.
Update on the new Home Affairs Headquarters in the Pretoria City Centre
The Department of Home Affairs announced in November last year that it would be moving its Headquarters from Watloo to the Hallmark Building within the Pretoria City Centre.
This decision was taken as an expression of government’s commitment to bring services to the people as well as its confidence in the City Centre. The move commenced in November 2011 and was completed in January this year, 2012.
One of the most significant benefits of the move to the Hallmark Building is that it has made it possible for the department to house the majprity of its staff members. This has greatly enhanced the way in which the department is able to conduct and conclude its main business within one precinct. Moving into the future, we will be looking into the possible building and development of a new Home Affairs Headquarters within the Pretoria metropolitan area.
Questions have recently been raised regarding the awarding of the contract and lease of this new Home Affairs Headquarters, Hallmark building. In this regard, we wish to put it on record that the lease of the Hallmark Building was at no stage, handled by the Department of Home Affairs.
As is standard procedure, the government entitiy charged with the responsibility for the lease of government buildings remains the Department of Public Works. In this regard, the lease, contract and tender processes related to the Hallmark Building was at all material stages handled by the Department of Public Works. At no stage was the Department of Home Affairs inolved in the processes referred to above.
Accordingly, our responsibility is and remains the need to ensure rent and related matters is paid to the landlord timeously in terms of our contractual obligations. It is our hope that this will put the matter to rest.
Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre
The Minister Dlamini Zuma has decided to lodge an appeal against the recent Port Elizabeth High Court judgment ordering the department to immediately re-open the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre.
This followed a case brought against the Department by the Somali Association of South Africa in terms of which the Association sought an order against the Minister and the Director-General to open a Refugee Reception Centre in Port Elizabeth.
In this regard, the applicant sought a court ruling compelling the department to open the office and ensure it is fully functional, either at the existing premises or at some suitable alternative premises around Port Elizabeth. The department opposed this application. However, the Court ruled in favour of the Applicants and ordered the department to re-open a Refugee Reception Centre in Port Elizabeth.
Having had the benefit of the reasons of the judgment, Minister Dlamini Zuma is of the view that an appeal be lodged against the judgment. The Minister’s reasons for the appeal will be contained in our founding affidavits.
Home Affairs is concerned about duplicate IDs
As a department that really cares about the welfare of our people, putting its shoulders to the wheel to ensure a better life for all our people, Minister Dlamini Zuma has expressed here serious concerns regarding the number of duplicate IDs that are in the system.
In this regard, the Minister has directed the department to do everything in its power to bring about an end to the scourge of duplicate ID’s – which manifest itself in either one person having multiple ID numbers or two people sharing one ID.
Minister Dlamini Zuma is of the view that this situation is untenable as it leads to the disruption of lives of ordinary people. Minister Dlamini Zuma is of the view that the Constitution - the founding document of our country- enjoins the department to ensure we deliver quality, efficient and effective services to the people.
In this context, the Minister has directed the department to bring an end to the misery brought to bear on the lives of these ordinary South Africans as a result of these duplicate IDs. The Minister is fully cognisant that these duplicate IDs create a situation in which lives of ordinary people halt to a standstill – in that they are unable to transact with business, banks, insurance companies, educational institutions, government agencies such as Social Development.
Minister Dlamini Zuma understands fully well the untold suffering these duplicate IDs have brought to bear on all those affected and commits herself to ensuring the Department deals with them once and for all.
The reasons behind the existence of these duplicate IDs is multifaceted.
Was that with the advent of democracy in 1994 and the amalgamation of the various Home Affairs departments which served different nationalities, some information was not captured on the national population register leading the department to issue new IDs;
Secondly some people who want to escape debts apply for amendments to their birth details which result in new ID’s numbers being issued; and
Of course in some instances a consequence of fraud and corruption leading to the issuance of IDs to people who are not supposed to have South African IDs.
All these activities have serious security implications and impact negatively on the integrity of our National Population Register - the heritage of all South Africans.
Currently, there are 83 000 (eighty three thousand) South Africans having two IDs at the same time, with a further 38 000 (thirty eight thousand) others sharing the same ID numbers.
This is a reduction from the original 400 000 South Africans that were affected.
We will accordingly and in due course publish a list of all those South Africans affected in all national print and electronic media including our own departmental website inviting those affected to approach the nearest Home Affairs offices to rectify the situation.
The department is doing everything in its power to ensure it can resolve these issues as quickly as possible. The department apologises for the slow process of redressing these imbalances. We appeal for cooperation and patience from those affected as we go through this rather difficult situation to ensure they can enjoy their constitutional rights like their fellow South Africans. We will spare neither strength nor effort in restoring the dignity of those affected by the scourge.
I thank you.
Questions and Answers
Question: Director-General, can you kindly clarify on this last item – you have said there are currently 83 000 South Africans with two IDs and a further 38 000 sharing the same ID number –how does this happen?
Answer, (Director-General): Colleagues, as we have said this issue of duplicate IDs is really a matter of concern.
How did this happen? Before 1994 we had what was called Bantustan states with different IDs and others didn’t even have the fingerprint system. When we were preparing for elections, as government we took a decision we will only use the green bar-coded ID document. Now, at that time, because of the pressure of cleaning the system in time for elections, we just went to the system, looked for ID numbers and then issued documents. We did not follow the normal procedure where we took fingerprints, etc.
This is how duplicate IDs were issued – because IDs were issued against a database that was not clean.
We then ended up with people with two IDs – and then there was another problem – remember your ID is based on your birth date – year, month and date. Remember there are many Mkuseli Apleni’s in the country – sharing the same name and even the same date of birth. And because there were no fingerprints in the system, the other Mkuseli Apleni was issued with the same ID number. You must remember that it is your fingerprints that identify you uniquely from another person. If there are no fingerprints, the possibility of duplicating an ID number is very real.
Also in South Africa, we have a tendency of not changing our residential addresses. We keep the address as the one we had when we first applied for the ID. This is why we must go to the public and ask them to come forward so we can correct this situation.
It will also be very difficult for us to publish the ID numbers of the clients because this is when the possibility of corruption may occur.
We are therefore going to see if we can issue only the name and perhaps an area where this ID number was issued. Then if I am Mkuseli Apleni, I can go to the Department of Home Affairs and check my details. Remember we have the online fingerprint verification system in all our offices. So, if your name is Mkuseli Apleni and your fingerprints match your ID number there will be no problem.
But the other Mkuseli Apleni must also go to our offices to check his details as well and it may be him with the problem.
But we are not going to publish ID numbers because this is where the problem of fraud and corruption will begin.
Question: Director-General, you mentioned this is a reduction from almost 400 000 duplicate cases – from when, 1994? Can you please clarify?
Answer, (Director-General): The department has been engaged in a process of cleaning the National Population Register but there was specific attention to this in the 2006/07 financial year. This is where we picked up these numbers.
We have therefore been continuously cleaning up our database and this is why we are now left with 83 000 and 38 000.
But where we are most concerned as a Department is on the 38 000 – where two people share one ID number. It is most critical we are able to resolve these 38 000 cases.
It is a well known phenomenon where one person may have two ID books. It is also well known in the community that people have two IDs. This is not correct.
Question: Director-General, can we combine these figures to get the number of those with duplicate IDs?
Answer, (Director-General): Yes you can but you should separate it because there are two with two ID numbers and those cases where two people share one ID number.
Question: Director-General, you mentioned that matriculants will be issued with IDs before their exams. Will they have preferred access to their IDs? Do you have a number from the Department of Education regarding the number of matriculants in the class of 2012?
Answer, (Director-General): The department has a programme where any child must be issued with an ID at the age of 16.
Then for the matriculants – what is our strategy to ensure we are able to deliver on this? We are visiting schools were we receive applications for IDs from those who are 15½ and 16 years of age. When they get to matric, we want for them to already have their IDs.
We do however, have a separate process for those who may not have applied at 16 years of age – they must now apply for IDs – and we have a dedicated process to ensure their documents are issued. We also have a programme with the Department of Education. Once they have completed their registration for matric exams, they will come to us and say for instance, we have 460 students who have registered to write their final examinations – out of these, there are 4 without IDs and we then focus on these students.
Question: Director-General, you said it is wrong for people to have two ID numbers – is it necessarily illegal? What should someone with two ID numbers do?
Answer (Director-General): By law you should only have one ID number. However, in the ID document, there is a date of issue. An ID is valid from that date of issue.
This is why we have begun the process of engaging with the banks – for instance – if you have two IDs, one issued in 2008 and another in 2011, the valid ID is the one issued in 2011. But when you go to a shop, they do not have this information.
This is why we are beginning to work with the banks – one you take your ID and place it on the counter they will say this ID is not valid because the date of issue is not the one on the system. This is how we will begin to clean the system.
We have begun rolling this out to SASSA, we have been rolling out to the banks, the insurance agencies – at the end this date will be important and it will mean what we want it to.
If you have two ID numbers go to the nearest Home Affairs office.
As I’ve said we are going to be publishing a list of names but without ID numbers – I’m saying that in South Africa there are too many Mkuseli Apleni’s – but as long as I see that name, I can go to the closest Home Affairs office and verify my fingerprints. There may not be a problem with my ID number but there may be a problem with another Mkuseli Apleni.
There are some people who know they have this problem and go to our offices – but this is a very long and laborious process. We therefore want to be proactive and say if there is a way we can assist these 38 000 people. If the addresses and telephone numbers were correct for these people we could sort out this problem very quickly.
We also took these names to (inaudible) – and we have run the names and ID numbers against their database. If we could find a corresponding match we could call the clients and ask them to go into their closest Home Affairs office to enable us to resolve this problem. This is however a very slow process. We want to therefore try to resolve this issue quickly.
Question: Director-General, I just want to clarify – this is not the same situation as someone who has applied for a new ID document thinking they have lost it only to find it later. Then they have two ID documents with the same number – this is not the same, is it?
Answer (Director-General): No, this refers to when you are one person with two different ID numbers.
We are also saying that once you have found your old ID document, you should cancel that original document because it is illegal to use the one with the older date of issue now that a new one has been issued.
But we will be able to pick this up through working with the banks on the online verification system.
Question: Director-General, you indicated that if babies are not registered within 30 days they will be breaking the law – what penalties will be imposed?
Answer (Director-General): We have said in the statement we are finalising the regulations. In the regulations there will be a proposal to say what consequences will apply to a person who have not registered a child from 31 days to one year, and what consequences for not registering child from one year to 14 years and what consequences for someone who have not registered a children after 14 years up the time the person comes to us and says I am 20 years old without a birth certificate.
There will then be consequences. You must remember that as a department we are registering hospitals so parents can register babies in hospital, there are mobile offices that are moving into communities, there are stakeholder forums that are helping people so there is no reason really why a baby cannot be registered within 30 days of birth.
We are saying to the nation to take this opportunity to register babies before the regulations are finalised because once they are finalized, penalties will apply.
Question: Director-General, when will the regulations be in place?
Answer (Director-General): We are really working hard on this matter so that these regulations will be in place during the next financial year (April 2012 – March 2013) – but will communicate further on this matter once we have finalized the regulations and before they are implemented.
Question: Director-General, you mentioned the main reasons behind these duplicate IDs – you mention in your last point that it could be due to fraud and corruption. Do you know what percentage of the duplication is due to fraud and corruption?
Answer (Director-General): What we are talking about here is mainly in the past – you will recall that in the department we have implemented a system which makes it possible to tell us who transacted on the system from the beginning to the end. If I was involved in this process, it could be immediately picked up but it is a system that was implemented later.
Secondly, we have now implemented a system where we keep hard copies of application forms – you now fill in a triplicate form – one is left in the office, one is taken by yourself and one is sent to Head Office so we are able to assess by whom you were helped.
But the fraud comes in because the issuance of an ID depends on you having been entered into the national population register by registering your birth. And you are issued with an ID number on your birth certificate. However, in our system that ID number is not coupled with fingerprints because these are only taken at 16 when you come to our offices to apply for an ID. So the fraudsters look at these numbers – it is also how the duplicate issue comes in – this number of a young South African is issued to someone else, a foreigner or another South African. And when the rightful owner comes to us at 16 to apply for an ID, we pick this up.
We not able to trace in the past who conducted such activities but we are now able to do so and we are able to clean our database through this.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
1 Mar 2012
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