The Department of Home Affairs wants to replace all 38 million green booklets with smart ID cards by 2022.
Since the project was rolled out in 2013‚ some 6 million smart IDs have been issued‚ but the department plans to do half that amount this year alone.
It issued Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete with her smart ID card in Johannesburg on Monday.
Now any South African-born citizen can apply for the identity document free of charge‚ with home affairs promising to have it ready for collection within a fortnight.
The move comes as the department tries to modernise its systems‚ aiming to eliminate the security limitations of regular ID books‚ which can easily be tampered with and manipulated for fraudulent purposes.
Home affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola said the new ID cards would be highly secured and produced in an end-to-end process‚ which is “wholly automated and supported by a live capture system”.
“For instance it has a card chip which is readable and verifiable‚ with biographic data embedded on it‚ and thus it is not easily manipulated or forged.”
Mokgola said among the numerous advantages of the smart ID was the secure‚ paperless application process‚ which eliminated the possibility of human error.
“The additional security features incorporated in the smart ID card eliminate the possibility of forgery or tampering (as experienced with green book identity documents)‚ ensuring that fraud and identity theft are eliminated. The resulting integrity of the smart ID card therefore also increases the security and credibility of the national population register as a whole‚” he said.
There will be no restrictions or qualifying criteria for application of the card‚ other than being born in South Africa‚ and applications can also be made at certain branches of the four major banks.