Home Affairs is rolling out a new identification solution that will change the face, literally, of our security system in South Africa.

Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Giagaba plans on launching the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) on Wednesday. This is a new identification system that forms an integral part of the Department’s Modernisation Programme.

ABIS is an identification system that will also act as a security solution and will replace the outdated and manually operated Home Affairs National Identity System (HANIS).

“The grand plan seeks to integrate HANIS and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) into an automated system through ABIS with the capability to identify and verify people through fingerprints, facial recognition, and iris technology,” the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.

ABIS forms a fundamental baseline for the broader National Identification System, which will encompass the data of both South Africans and foreign nationals in a single database.

The department’s 2018/19 annual performance plan expects the AFIS data migration to the ABIS system to be completed within the 2018/19 financial year.

The system’s iris and palm print recognition capabilities are scheduled to come online by 2019/20 and will play a major role in the revamping of Home Affairs offices across South Africa.

Gigaba said that he has directed his department to prepare a comprehensive report and strategy on how to manage long queues at Home Affairs offices across the land.

The minister also noted that he had been inundated with complaints from members of the public regarding time spent at offices for documents such as smart ID cards, passports, and certificates.

One of the methods that may be considered to reduce the waiting time of the public at Home Affairs offices is to reintroduce opening offices on Saturdays.

This method was previously implemented but was mooted after a number of trade unions complained that workers were not being paid for their overtime services. Although a settlement was reached between trade unions and the Department of Home Affairs last year, offices still remain closed on Saturday “until further notice”, as stated on the official site of the department.

“A comprehensive report and effective strategy on how to deal with this matter swiftly are a high priority as the department remains committed to delivering high-quality services to citizens and other clients,” he said.

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.