Of the 403 home affairs offices, 110 are now equipped with the Live Capture system for the processing of smart ID cards and new passports, the department's Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni has said.

The department said it aims to reach 140 offices by March 2015 in a statement posted on its website - with the long-term aim of having over 38 million citizens convert from the green ID to the smart ID card.

Apleni said since the smart ID cards can only be issued at offices where they have rolled out the Live Capture system, it has resulted in long queues, which is understandable since many are applying and paying R140 for the Smart Card ID instead of the green ID.

Apleni however said the green ID is still valid since it is offered in offices with no Live Capture.

Currently ID cards are free of charge to 16-year-olds as well as senior citizens who are aged 60 years or older.

In 2013, home affairs introduced the smart ID card and the new passport as part of its modernisation programme and it incorporates strong security features aimed at significantly reducing fraudulent copies of these two essential items. To date over one million smart ID cards have been issued, with the target set to reach 1.6 million cards by the end of the 2014/15 financial year.

While the old system depends on paper forms and manual fingerprinting, the new Live Capture system is online - bringing with it the new challenge of bandwidth according to the statement.

An automated application process with the Dispensation for Zimbabwean Permits is also in place and through this the department aims to "normalise the stay of Zimbabwean nationals who were in the country illegally".

Apleni said the modernisation programme should totally transform the manner in which Home Affairs renders public services in all their offices, including at the ports of entry.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will soon announce the process of sorting out current network challenges but the offices have the capacity to render services even when they are offline, according to Apleni.

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