Smart move: Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said during his budget vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday that the ehomeaffairs service allows citizens to pay online, schedule appointments and apply for smart ID cards and passports. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Smart move: Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said during his budget vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday that the ehomeaffairs service allows citizens to pay online, schedule appointments and apply for smart ID cards and passports. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The Department of Home Affairs intends to finalise a public- private partnership with the banking sector and the Treasury to roll out its e-services across SA before the end of the current financial year.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said during his budget vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday that many of the department’s clients utilise the ehomeaffairs service, which started in 2016.

This allowed citizens to pay online, schedule appointments and apply for smart ID cards and passports at 14 participating bank branches.

"Thus far, 212,101 smart ID cards and more than 222,406 passports have been obtained through the 14 pilot branches....

"We intend finalising a public-private partnership with the banking sector and National Treasury to roll this out across the country before the end of this financial year," said Gigaba.

Durban, Pietermaritzburg, East London, Nelspruit and Polokwane will be prioritised.

"We will announce further details on these expansion plans in the next few weeks," he said.

Gigaba said the department had in the meantime agreed with its banking partners — Standard Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank and Absa — to extend ehomeaffairs to 20 additional branches immediately.

This will improve ease of access to the country and help grow tourism. We have introduced a visa exemption for Russia, which has increased tourist travel from Russia by 51% in 2017, year on year. This year we will simplify visa requirements for Chinese and Indian visitors

The minister announced that the department had issued 10-million smart ID cards to South Africans over the last five years.

He said in the current financial year, the department will pilot e-permitting functionality, which will allow visitors to SA to apply for visas online, receive an electronic visa within hours or days and be able to proceed to the country.

"This will improve ease of access to the country and help grow tourism.

"We have introduced a visa exemption for Russia, which has increased tourist travel from Russia by 51% in 2017, year on year. This year we will simplify visa requirements for Chinese and Indian visitors.

"We will also ease the entry of people with valid visas from countries with stringent criteria such as the US and UK.

"In the medium term, we will introduce trusted traveller e-gates at our airports to fast-track entry of South African citizens and other low-risk travellers," Gigaba said.

He said that through the department’s enhanced movement control system, which has been rolled out to all major ports of entry and linked to the permitting system, SA will be able to track each person’s movement in and out of its borders. "We can identify bona fide frequent travellers, which will be helpful for our future trusted traveller system, as well as those who have transgressed our law. We have added biometric capability at four airports and six land ports, which has allowed us to store the photographs and fingerprints of people entering our country.

"This improves our security while enabling efficient entry for visitors," the minister said.

On Wednesday, the department launched the automated biometric identification system, which will enable advanced identification and verification through fingerprints, palm prints, iris, facial recognition and DNA. Gigaba said the system will form the backbone of the future national identity system, which will replace the national population register.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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