Transcript Copy: Speaking notes for Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma during interaction with National Press Club at the Court Classique Hotel, Arcadia, Pretoria
17 May 2012
Comments by Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media and Home Affairs officials. We are very pleased to be here at your invitation. It is always a pleasure for us to interact with the press club.
Perhaps we should take your questions and then we can make our comments at the end.
Questions and answers
Question: Minister, what is the timeline for the roll out of the Smart ID Card?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): The Smart ID Card – we are at the moment in the pilot phase where we have set up and we are actually taking the card but not necessarily for use for now. We are making sure there is a seamless process but also the Card itself, that there are no problems with the card itself so that when we start issuing it to citizens, it would have been subjected to a very rigorous process.
Secondly, we also need to equip our frontline offices because when we begin issuing these cards to the public, we do not want to capture this information on paper. We want to begin capturing this information online. So our frontline offices must be ready to capture this information online and this is very important because it means the information will be as accurate as possible because it will not be one person filling in a form and then another person filling in another form at the back office. It will be that information going directly to the printers.
We will be happy with this because it will mean accuracy and speed – it will just be the printing and delivery that will take time so it will cut down on the time we will take to process the card.
Also, because the client will see the information that will be entered on the card, they will not come to us to say you made a mistake. They would have seen all the information that would be on the card.
So, we think that within six months we will begin issuing the card to the public – but it will still be the pilot in the sense that we will not be rolling this out to everyone. We will only be issuing these cards to those particularly who apply for the first time. But also those who have lost their cards and need replacements.
We are just a bit worried about this second element because we hope that we will not find that everyone has now list his or her card.
The idea was that in the first 18 months or so we will begin the roll out of this to the public. We will have a system – either alphabetically or by date of birth – but there will be a clear process of how we replace the IDs. We will hope to finish this within 2 years or so and then everyone will have a card. From then on it will just be the card. This is the plan. And this is where we are with regards to the timelines.
Question: Minister, can you give us the cost with regard to the replacement process of the IDs?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): We do not want to be a stage where we are issuing cards and books at the same time so initially, the new people that apply will receive their IDs for free. Those who apply for their IDs to be reissued pay R140. They will continue to replace their IDs at R140.
And then when we begin the recall, we would have discussed with government and treasury how this will happen – whether there will be an amount paid or whether government will carry the costs?
The budget comes from Treasury – this is why we are giving ourselves two years. But for the first 18 months, it will the normal process. If you apply for the first time it will be free. If you apply for a re-issue it will be R140 but instead of getting the book, you will get the card.
But when we begin the recall there will be a process that would have been concluded between Treasury and ourselves on how to do this.
Question: Minister, in order to begin switching to the cards, I’m certain there will be some preparation for the transition. Is there a budget for this transition?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): We have the machines for the transition. We do not have the machines as yet for the broader roll out but it takes this length of time to have them ordered and delivered – about 18 months.
But for the normal replacement, as we are doing for the first 18 months or so, we are fine – we do not need anything.
We do not require any additional funds for the transition because we will be using the same machines as we are using now for the pilot.
We were given R5 million for the pilot. We are almost concluding this.
When we begin with the six months, we can start almost immediately. We will not require any additional equipment. The only thing will be to ensure the frontline offices are equipped. Some are able to do it even now but we want to make sure that more offices have live capture technology.
Question: Minister, what security features will this card have to ensure it cannot be easily reproduced?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): This is a very secure card with a number of levels of security. If someone wants to authenticate this card they will require a card reader – it’s not very expensive – anything from R30 – anyone who needs to authenticate identity – the banks, the shops, anyone who conducts financial and legal transactions should have these machines. These machines will be able to read the card and together with the fingerprint of the holder, will be able authenticate the identity of the holder.
The card will also have an imprint of your fingerprint which will not be visible but when read with the fingerprint reader, it will be visible. It will also say yes there is a match or no, there is no match with your ID number.
There is a microchip inside the card and it has information so when you authenticate the card that information will come through.
There is a barcode and this will also have information.
And then there is another level that will have to be read with expert machines – if the matter has to go to court or something. This will require specialised infrastructure.
Obviously I cannot tell you everything that this card has.
Question: Minister, are there any specific features that any person can use to identify whether this is a real card or not?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): I will show you the real card – first there is your photo – at the moment people can take out your photo and put in another photo. You have someone’s information with another photo. Now you cannot replace the photo – it is there permanently.
And you can see there is something at the back of the card – some features that an ordinary person can see.
But we suggest that anyone wanting to do legal or financial transaction should have the machine so it can read what the naked eye cannot to ensure that indeed it is an authentic card.
So you see this but for me, what is important is what you cannot see. Because people who are trying to forge the card will put on what they can see. What is important is to read what cannot be seen – in the chip, the barcode and what is hidden.
Question: Minister, I have a question that is not related to the smart card – it is related to duplicate IDs – last week you launched a massive campaign to help resolve these cases – it was then 29000 – are you winning?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): With the duplicates – we have been running a programme behind the scenes to resolve these cases. There are two levels of duplicates – one where one person has more than one ID and another where two people share one ID number. The first one is slightly easier to resolve. The second is more difficult.
We have been resolving these but what we have been doing in the past is reactive – resolving them as people came to us – so what we have done now is to look at our National Population Register and to look at whether we can identify duplicate IDs. We want to try to get these people to come forward even before they identify they are part of the duplicate set so it does not give them problems. When we wait for them to come to us, they come to us when they have tried to do something they could not do. Now we are saying that people with these numbers should please come forward so we can assist to resolve these challenges.
The real challenge in South Africa is that people do not give us their addresses – they write down their address when they apply for an ID and this is the last time. Unless they update this information, there is no way we can know how to contact them.
In other countries, it is a legal requirement that Home Affairs be updated with changes in information, like addresses. This is not the same in South Africa.
We know that these people have problems or are going to have problems but there is no way of reaching them. Ordinarily we should have been able to write to them and ask them to come into our offices without having to resort to this campaign.
But we are winning because when I took office we have 460000 cases of duplicates. Now we have gone down to 29000 from about half a million.
I’m telling you the magnitude of problem and yes we are certainly winning if we have moved from 460 000 cases to 29 000. This is a win but it is still a problem for these people and this is why we are now going out and doing it in this way.
Question: Minister, the department has been plagued by rogue officials. Are you certain that these rogue elements will not sell the information regarding the smart card to fraudsters?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): We are very sure because the hidden features – even some of the officials here do not know all the features – so there is no one rogue official who can do everything so it is not possible. They may sell what is visible but what is visible if of new use to anyone. What is of use is that which is not visible.
As I say there are different layers – the last one is probably introduced by the last person in the printing works so there is no way you can duplicate this card.
Question: Minister, I was wondering – when we have elections our IDs are stamped and our fingers are marked – how will it work with the new smart card? And in future will the smart card have information like our drivers licence?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): I think there will be a mixture in the next election because some people will have the smart cards and some the ID books. But in future, there will not be stamp on the card – it will be a swipe or something like this but your finger will help. The Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC) is aware that this is the process we are working towards and they will have to work on this.
In terms of whether it will have other information – this is the process we are embarking on now – we are having discussions with other departments. There are various ways in which we can do this – you can feed this information into the chip in the card or you can create a club or something where other people are able to access this information. Therefore you don’t have to feed in the information but using the card, you can access information. That is the card allows access – so if a doctor wants to know what is happening to a patient, instead of putting in information all the time, he can access the information on the card to see what is happening.
In terms of the drivers licence, there will still be a separate drivers licence but perhaps we can print it ourselves. The reason we feel we should have a separate drivers licence is because it must be changed every five years and perhaps it will be inconvenient for people to change their IDs every five years. But we are working with the Department of Transport to do the printing of the licence as well.
Question: Minister, how much will the smart card project cost government? Minister you said businesses must purchase this machine to enable them to access the information – how much will government have to spend on this?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): There are two types of machines – if you have a stationery business you can use the software through your computer with a little machine on the side. Then there is a machine that can be used by people who are mobile like the police. They are not very expensive – some are perhaps R30 but perhaps depending on the economies of scale – it may even be cheaper.
(Deputy Director-General Sello Mmakau) Thank you Minister – this is a mobile gadget you can use to authenticate the card. Before you authenticate the information on the chip, you must use your fingerprint first to validate the information on the chip. You can get some of the units for R30, R60, R100 – depending on the sophistication required and what you want to authenticate on the card.
If you authenticate the card, you do so using the barcode which has biometric security features. And you do not have to swipe it because it is a contactless chip – this is also what makes it more durable than other cards.
(Minister Dlamini Zuma) As I said for the pilot, we are spending R5 million. I do not a figure for the final rollout. The main thing will be the machine because it will be bigger and can produce more cards than we can currently produce. It will be a bigger machine, able to produce about 10-15 million cards per year. I do not have the figures for that machine.
The machines we currently have were not necessarily bought through government – the Government Printing Works is a government component – thought they are a government entity, they can do private work and generate income. So some of the machines they have bought have been bought from this money. We may need to assist them with the bigger machines but we will have to see.
Question: Minister, how will the production processes of the Smart ID Card and the ID book compare?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): The card is more sophisticated but it requires less people, less paper, just more skilled officials so at the moment we are producing it at more or less the same cost as the books. There is a lot of manual labour in compiling the book – it begins with the front office – paper, filling in the form, a courier company to transport the applications to head office, you have to get people to sort them out when they have been received, do all the manual processes including pasting the photos.
Going forward it means we will be saving millions and millions of trees because we will not be using any paper so it will be an environmentally friendly product.
Question: Minister, we know the history of the smart card – will any outside company be involved in the production?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): Other than buying the material that is used to print the card, the actual card will be produced by Government Printing Works. We are going to be printing it in house through the Government Printing Works. We will be buying the material to make the card but the security features, the microchip, all will be produced and formatted in house. It is about the materials but the production will be in house.
Question: Minister, from where will you be buying this material?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): As you know, this is more or less the same material as we use for the passport. We will be using the same material and I do not think it is appropriate for us to say from where we get the material for our passports unless there is a good reason for us to tell the public.
It is really just the polycarbonate and we eventually want to produce this for ourselves.
Question: Minister, what message do you have for the people with duplicate IDs?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): Yes, we are very sorry that at a point in time duplicates were produced and there are various reasons why because we know how much trouble it visits on those affected. We are doing our best to resolve these issues and this is why we want people who see their names or numbers in the media to come forward so we can resolve these cases before they become a real handicap in their lives. We are working day and night to be able to resolve these cases as we have been doing for some time.
Question: Minister, regarding the issuing of smart cards – how long will it take to produce and distribute from the point of application? Will Home Affairs be cutting jobs to save costs?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): We will be capturing information at the front line when we begin rolling out the smart card. This will be live capture – captured online which means there are people that will assist others to capture this information. We will have to reskill some officials so they can use the machinery that is there. In the back office we will need to do the same. We will not retrench people at Home Affairs but we will reskill them to do what needs to be done. We will also require more sophisticated skills.
It will be much quicker than now.
(Deputy Director-General Sello Mmakau): Turnaround times will be greatly improved because of the automation processes in the production of the card. If you look at passports produced after live capture applications, they can be produced in a few days – the longest time is when the passports are couriered back to the client in the different provinces. In terms of technology, one you leave that work station, the card is already at the printing works. But with the initial expected volumes, this may impact on the turnaround time.
(Minister Dlamini Zuma) If I had to give you an example – when I applied for mine – I went to the office in central Pretoria to apply – when I left to go to Government Printing Works, my card was ready. It was an isolated card but I am trying to illustrate how fast the process is. It really will cut down the production times and it will be produced as the information is given to us. It will then have to sorted according to province and couriered back to the clients.
Question: Minister, your department has been dealing with ID theft – where are you with this process?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): I don’t have the most recent figures on this matter. However, with regard to identity theft, we are dealing with it at different levels – one way of eliminating identity theft is when you register with Home Affairs. If you register at birth, as the law says, within 30 days, it cuts the opportunity for identity theft. If everyone in the country registers within 30 days of birth, we will not have to register people at 20. This is where identity theft happens – when you register your birth late. You can cheat, you can give us information that is not true, you can steal an ID and paste your photo in it.
One way of stopping ID theft is to register your children within 30 days of birth. This will help a lot.
Secondly, receiving your ID at 16 will also help a lot rather than waiting till you get a job at 25.
This card is also going to be a great help because it will be useless to try and steal this card. So people steal IDs because they can change photos. And they can kill two birds with one stone – they can get an ID but also they can commit fraud and corruption because they can open accounts, etc. using someone else’s information.
Now this card is going to be absolutely useless for this because even if you pick it up on the streets, you cannot change the photo on it. This will disappear.
Trying to forge the card will also be a nightmare for anyone who wants to do it because it is impossible.
We will therefore be cutting down on ID fraud more dramatically – we also need to ensure our systems, which is one area that we are working on – an integrated IT system.
Maybe now as we speak, we have a different system for refugees, for Movement Control, for fingerprints, for the National Population Register (NPR). Now you can see how easy it would be to cheat the system because for instance, if I am a refugee, or I’ve come into the country illegally and I apply for refugee status and then that same afternoon I find a rogue Home Affairs official and then he says he can sort me out – then he enters this person as a South African on the NPR – there is nothing on our NPR that will tell us that this person is not a South African because he has just applied for asylum.
But if we had one system, there will be different categories but because it will be one system you cannot go from one system to another. If you put in your name and a fingerprint you will be told that you cannot apply for citizenship because you have just come into the country as a visitor.
Once we have this system, on which we are working now, I think the chances will be minimal that there can be instances of ID theft.
Question: Minister, will the new ID smart card help the Department of Social Development?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma): You see, Home Affairs is the centerpiece of all these things so once we fix Home Affairs, everyone can benefit because their information can even be part of our card. It will help government as a whole. Even the Minister of Human Settlements was saying he was looking forward to this because it will help everyone.
Comments by the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
I wanted to say a few things on things you did not ask about – one of the few things that was linked to the questions you have asked – we have found that there is decreasing levels of fraud and corruption within civics – because we have streamlined the processes but also because it is easy to get things so there is no need to bribe officials to get things done – a passport on time, an ID.
Things are working more or less smoothly.
But we have a challenge – especially as it relates to Refugee Centres. Suffice to say, we receive thousands of applications for asylum but the people who qualify are very few because most of the people who apply are not fleeing persecution, or war or anything, they are coming to South Africa for opportunities but they are using the refugee side to come in.
But there is the opportunity for bribery and fraudulent activity because the number of people who actually apply are very few. And the possibility exists on either side – Home Affairs officials can solicit bribes for facilitating applications and the other side is when applicants say to Home Affairs officials that although they do not qualify could their applications be approved. Depending on the level of integrity and patriotism of the officials, the offer may be accepted or rejected.
This is an area that is giving us problems.
But it is also difficult for people to come forward to us because they are vulnerable because they are here illegally – they are trying to legalise themselves but in the wrong way. Attempting to apply for asylum when you come from Mauritius is going to be very difficult.
So, it is important to understand these people are vulnerable so they may whisper to someone but we must find different way of dealing with this because they may not want to be publicly known. We must find different ways of dealing with this problem so that Home Affairs officials and clients know this is not an option, it is not acceptable and either party can be arrested. This is an area of challenges.
We are also continuing to strengthen our ports of entry. We began with OR Tambo International – we will be looking at other land and maritime ports of entry so we can strengthen them. It is very important that people who work there have the necessary infrastructure but the personnel must also have the interests of the country at heart.
When it comes to infrastructure, although we have been given some budget, we need to work through Public Works to get our infrastructure sorted out.
The other area that the media can really help us with is with the issue of fraudulent, let me know say convenience – because it is really fraud – marriages. Many South Africans marry foreigners for money so that foreigners can regularise their stay in South Africa because our Constitution allows that either spouse (male or female) can make a choice to remain in South Africa so a lot of foreigners are using this route. And a lot of our people do not understand what this means. They do not understand the implications.
And off course, they also find themselves in trouble when they want to get married properly. And then they say Home Affairs has married them fraudulently and deny any knowledge of this. When we check indeed they got married – they signed, their fingerprints are there.
We would be grateful if the media could work with us to educate the public and why it should not be done. We find that people arrive and before their applications are even adjudicated, they have been married to a South African. Once their status is regularised, they bring their real families. This is an area that needs quite a lot of education.
We are pleased to say we have begun with our Academy – some of you would recall we announced this some time ago and we are pleased to say this process is now complete – we have employed lecturers – there are more then 250 people who are now attending this course. We began with the group who was in the department so we have fully and well rounded officials so they can work in all areas of the department. We are very happy that this process is now on course.
When we last spoke, we were still struggling with our audit – we are continuing to work but last year, for the first time we received an unqualified audit
You can see that from the time we first started interacting with you, a lot has been achieved.
Comments by Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan
Minister has dealt with quite a few of the issues and quite comprehensively about the problems at our Refugee Reception Offices.
I just want to reiterate that we face abuse at many levels of the asylum seeker process, one of which the Minister has highlighted, where people try to legalise their stay in the country through the asylum seeker system although they do not qualify. This often leads to corrupt activities emanating from these Centres. We have information that this crime is syndicated. South Africa receives the most number of applications for asylum in the world.
This does not materialise on its own. From the time people leave their countries to the time they get to South Africa all of this is assisted and paid for. We sometimes find tourist buses of people at our Refugee Reception Offices. We have learnt that the going rate for people from Somalia to South Africa is US$5000. All of this leads to challenges and while we are trying to address some of these challenges new ones crop up.
The best way to deal with this kind of abuse of through intelligence, undercover operations and this takes time, capacity and resources. The message from our side is that this is something we find completely unacceptable and we will spare no effort to ensure our country is protected and our citizens are safe and secure.
Minister has also highlighted that people apply for asylum knowing their applications will not be accepted and then try to regularise their stay through other means. Again, it is very important that citizens also take responsibility for their own safety and security and we call on people to act in a way that we all, as citizens protect each other. Patriotism must mean something to us.
Part of the challenge with regard to the asylum seeker process and this has its basis in international law and what it allows if for certain types of people to come into our country without documents and claim asylum. If you are the world’s largest recipient of asylum seekers and someone says I come from Sudan and the process of verifying this information is going to be a cumbersome and protracted process and during this time people are allowed to remain in the country while we process these applications and this creates a market for all forms of corrupt activities.
Our strategy has been to address this to tease out applications that are manifestly unfounded – that is the applicant has no hope of being regarded as a refugee. These applications are in the majority. We have been able to do this for the last five months in most of our refugee reception offices except Marabastad.
In the long term our strategy is to move our Refugee Reception Centres to the borders because it makes no sense to us that people are allowed to sorjourn in our country without proper documents and we encounter them in one of our cities for the first time. Refugee centres therefore ought to be located in close proximity to foreign nationals when they arrive in the country. Long term this is another strategy we will employ.
We are also engaging with our neighbouring countries and we are also signatories to the international conventions on asylum seekers to ensure they also tighten up their systems so that people do not traverse through their countries on their way to South Africa.
The idea is that if someone is a refugee in, for example, Somalia – the first safe country to which the person goes is the country in which the person should be applying for asylum. The first safe country because ideally the convention is there to ensure that if someone is being persecuted in his or her country, there is a place where the person can find refuge and that should be the first safe country.
As it is, we are receiving foreign nationals from all over the place including from as far away as Pakistan and Bangladesh and so on which means that they traverse through many safe countries before they arrive in South Africa and really we think that this effort on the part of our neighbouring countries and fellow signatories to the international conventions must be strengthened.
Just a small word on films and publications – you would see today that the Beeld is reporting about a young girl who met someone on Twitter and was raped. A lot of the efforts of the Films and Publications Board has been to try and raise awareness, particularly on the part of the parents, about the dangers of not just exposure to material that is harmful to children but also the dangers that children face when it comes to new media.
When we read this this morning we were absolutely appalled because it is saying to us that parents are not taking this seriously enough, most children have cell phones these days and they are chatting away to people they have never met. They often use pseudonyms and chat room names and different cyber identities. They often pose as young people when they could actually be paedophiles. We really think that government cannot do everything.
Parents must step up their oversight, children are at risk and we really, really urge that people begin to take the campaigns we run far more seriously, messages that we try to disseminate to the general public – we have even begun to engage with religious communities so that from the churches, temples, mosques, these messages can go out to the general population and we are really very disturbed that this is becoming an everyday story as opposed to something that is unique.
The Films and Publications Board is having a workshop today and tomorrow – Minister will open that workshop later today – on the standards that will be used to classify films and games. Games in particular are becoming very big in South Africa.
The man who went on a shooting spree in Norway says he prepared himself using a war game which is apparently very popular amongst children. Again games are rated – parents need to understand that this kind of material can very negatively influence their kids.
The proof of this is that everytime you open the newspapers – there are stories of violent crimes being perpetrated by younger and younger people. They get influenced by the kind of media, entertainment to which they are exposed and this is a big challenge in this country and we need to become a little more serious and responsible. We invite you to participate actively in this process.
Comments by Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
I just wanted to add – one of the things that is not adequately understood and for which Home Affairs gets vilified is for foreign nationals who are arrested and held at Lindela. But what is not know is that these people do not co-operate with us – they have learnt that our judges and our public do not understand – so they do not co-operate – they give us the incorrect country and when the Embassy officials come to interview them, they realise that this is not their national.
Then they say another country and what they are doing is to ensure that spend 120 days in Lindela. Once they reach this 120 days, they take us to court because the law says we should not keep them for longer than 120 days. But the law was assuming they would co-operate but they do not co-operate and the judges do not listen to the fact that these people do not co-operate. They just say, you have been there for 120 days, you should not be held for more than 120 days, so you should be set free. So we are finding we are setting people free at the insistence of the court and these people should not be free.
But they have found this loophole – that if they do not tell us where they are coming from they can delay the process. So, perhaps if the media can assist us to publicise this issue as an issue that is creating problems for us, perhaps the people in Lindela will realise the public will now understand why they should co-operate and when we do take certain measures we are thinking about, we have not done so yet, the public will understand and realise we are not being cruel.
Comments by Director-General (DG) Mkuseli Apleni
As management, we are available to the media. We are always available. If there is an issue we are available to respond.
Question: DG, one quick question – can you please give us an update on the court decisions last week that the department issue IDs to two women within 30 days?
Answer (Director-General Mkuseli Apleni): The client with an outstanding application for six years – we have checked on our system and this ID does not exist – this is one of those fraudulent cases. You will recall there was a similar case in KwaZulu-Natal of a person who could not get a grant – when we followed up this matter it was a case of her being an illegal foreigner.
To date the lawyers for this client have not submitted the required information although the judge has mandated we issue the ID.
On the other issue – the gender had been changed on the system and the ID is in the process of being issued.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
17 May 2012
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