Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said a total of 50 815 duplicates were on record, a huge drop from the initial figure of 598 000 given by the department’s director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, in 2011.
Mamoepa, however, last week said that only 50 815 duplicates were detailed in the department’s system. A total of 28 185 of these IDs were verified before December 31, 2013, which was the set date to invalidate all the unaccounted for documents.
Mamoepa attributed the high number of duplicates to the integration of former homelands and Home Affairs departments into a single non-racial department after 1994. He added that crime syndicates that colluded with some officials to secure fraudulent IDs were also responsible.
Another source of duplicated IDs identified by Mamoepa included people – with the help of officials – changing their birth dates or ID numbers in a bid to escape debt obligations or being placed on credit bureau lists.
He added that only 3 566 cases were reported to the department with faults that included wrong birth dates and spelling errors.
Liesl Muller, of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights, said the decline in duplicates was possible and it was an indication of the progress made by the department to correct the National Population Register (NPR).
“Now that the IDs have been cancelled, the burden of proof of citizenship must be on Home Affairs. They must use their discretion and not just say you do not have the required documents. They must advertise more widely on this because there are still a number of innocent people walking around not knowing their IDs have been cancelled and those who obtained them have simply just changed to another ID number,” Muller said.
Although Mamoepa could not say how many IDs were reported to the department to be fraudulent, he said the duplicate IDs were cancelled and removed from the NPR after owners did not come forward to claim them following the placement of newspaper adverts urging them to do so.
Independent Electoral Commission spokesperson Kate Bapela told The Citizen the organisation did not come across any invalidated IDs during voter registration weekends in November last year and earlier this month. Up to 25.3 million South Africans were registered to cast their vote on May 7.