After a six month pilot phase, the Department of Home Affairs has finally opened Smart ID card and passport applications at major banks in Gauteng.
President Jacob Zuma announced the initiative at an event at the Gallagher Conference Centre in Midrand this morning.
The project, which the department described as a move to a more technological and smarter way of carrying out operations, was first piloted at the Standard Bank and FNB headquarters in the Joburg city centre in August and July respectively.
At the time, only bank employees were being issued their Smart ID cards or passports. Home Affairs said this option would be opened up to the public once it had been satisfied with the system’s smooth running.
Later in 2015, Nedbank joined the pilot operation, followed by Absa in February this year.
“This is a very important development as we seek to build a state that is responsive to needs of the people,” Zuma said. This service is one step further on the government’s [journey] to make Home Affairs services more accessible to all our people.”
“Government can’t do this alone…that’s why we’re entering into partnership with banks and their clients,” the president added.
Right now, there are a total of 12 bank sites in Gauteng where applications can be processed. There are a total of 17 900 fingerprint scanners across all sites where you’ll be required to have your print scanned.
You can read all about what to expect when applying at the bank in this detailed article which explains the process step by step.
“We taking our modernisation programme of the department forward. We want your grandchildren when they turn 16 to find a new Home Affairs, unlike the one you left”, minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba said. “We’re presenting to our nation the backbone of egovernance in our nation.”
Gigaba also emphasised on the vision to turn the nation’s view of Home Affairs and how it operates completely and making processes easier for all and added that the online portal is one way government and banks are trying to fight identity theft and fraud.
If you live in Gauteng and heading over to the bank and waiting in queues isn’t your thing however, you can make use of the eHome Affairs portal also launched today, you can read up on how to do that, in this article.
“The first pilot phase [at the banks] was very successful,” Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told htxt.africa. “What it highlighted to us was the need to roll this out to more South Africans.”
The second pilot involves both the eHome Affairs portal and bank applications being limited to Gauteng citizens aged 30 – 35 for now.
“In time, we’d want to have a wider reach, but for us to do that, we have to finalise our partnerships with the banks and a number of administrative issues and then have more sites,” Tshwete added.
A roll out plan will be handed over to the minister Gigaba in the next few weeks. The department expects this pilot to reach an estimated four million citizens.
Tshwete said the portal is very secure, which is probably wise seeing as how citizens will be required to enter their personal and banking details.
“Home Affairs is highly security conscious. The banks are a financial entity, so they’re also concerned about security. The meeting of these two entities will benefit South Africans,” he said. “Our systems are still separate, so when entering your bank details, you still have to go to your bank’s website or app and complete the payment there. Citizens shouldn’t be concerned about safety, we’re making sure that all precautions are taken for their personal security.”
President Zuma urged all stakeholders in the private sector and South Africans to work with the department to make sure the system works as efficiently as possible.
Have a look at more photos from the launch below.