Draft bill to clamp down on fake IDs

Smart ID biometrics

The Home Affairs Department is drafting a bill that will clamp down on people who fraudulently manufacture ID documents or are in unlawful possession of such documentation.

Published May 17, 2023

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Cape Town - The Home Affairs Department is drafting a bill that will clamp down on people who fraudulently manufacture ID documents or are in unlawful possession of such documentation.

In terms of the proposed National Identification Registration Bill, those found to be on the wrong side of the law may face fines of up to R100 000 or be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Those who make false representations will face a fine of R20 000.

The public is now able to make written comments on the bill, which aims to come up with a single identification system for the country.

The bill, when it becomes law, will apply to permanent residents and foreigners who sojourn temporarily for a period of time and also provide for the compilation and maintenance of a population register and identification database.

This comes as the department was grilled last week by the portfolio committee over delays in completing the migration from the Home Affairs National Identification System to the Automated Biometric Identification System.

The committee expressed concern over the delays in light of huge financial investments and no tangible progress being achieved amid the service provider requesting numerous extensions.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the new bill aimed to ensure universal registration of all vital events, including but not limited to births, marriages and deaths.

Motsoaledi said the new legislation would empower the director-general to issue a gender neutral identity number for non-binary persons and criminalise the burying of a dead person without registration of death.

“The object of this act is to facilitate registration of identity information of all citizens, persons residing in the Republic temporarily or permanently; and provide for a primary source for the verification and authentication of identity information,” he said in explaining the bill.

The register and database will contain a person’s date of birth, gender, citizenship, ID number, full names and surnames, place of birth, recent photograph and fingerprints.

It will also contain marital status, particulars of passports and travel documents and details upon cancellation of permanent departure from the country, among others.

In terms of the proposed legislation, the director-general would compile and maintain a population register for the country upon its commencement.

No person may record or amend any particulars in the population register unless specifically authorised by the director-general.

“The director-general must assign an identity number to every citizen and permanent resident whose particulars are included in the population register.”

Any person who unlawfully and intentionally assigns an ID number or unlawfully uses such would be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction not exceeding R100 000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.

“A person who unlawfully and intentionally submits false information, or misrepresents any information ... is guilty of an offence, and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R20 000 or imprisonment, or both.”

Motsoaledi also said the director-general will, under the new law, assign a reference number to foreigners and that number would not be reallocated or reused by any other person during their lifetime or even after death of that person.

The bill says a person whose particulars are included in the database and has turned 10 years old should apply to be issued with an identity card.

“A minor making an application in terms of subsection (1) must be assisted by a parent or guardian or any person who is duly authorised to submit such an application on behalf of the minor.”

Those who unlawfully manufacture, produce, print and distribute documents purporting to be national identification cards will also face a fine of up to R100 000 or 10 years’ imprisonment, or both.

The law will show no mercy to those who wilfully possess ID cards and temporary ID certificates as they too will be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months.

Anyone wishing to make written submission must do so by emailing [email protected] and Luvo [email protected] by no later than June 30.

Cape Times