Yet, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has now assured international travellers that the problems with the recently installed biometrics system have been resolved. While visiting the airport to inspect the system Gigaba said he was satisfied that the system was functioning properly and that there would be no more delays.
The biometrics system is part of Home Affairs’ modernisation strategy. It is installed at international inbound and outbound immigration check points. So bad was the system that flights were delayed last week due to the problems with the system, which was not only mechanical but also due to a shortage of personnel at the counters to process travellers.
Despite the problems at O.R. Tambo, Gigaba said the biometrics system will be rolled out at six of the country’s busiest land ports of entry including Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Ficksburg, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek and Kopfontein. Plans are underway to link the system to Interpol to ensure that wanted persons are arrested on arrival and sent back to their countries. Home Affairs is also working on linking the system to the national population register.
The briefing at OR Tambo International Airport follows several complaints from international travellers because of delays since the system has been installed last year.
Minister Gigaba said the purpose of taking biometric data at ports of entry is to accurately identify people and determine whether they pose a risk to South Africa.
Using biometrics can also counter the use of fraudulent documents, protect visitors from identify theft and stop criminals and immigration violators from entering the country.
The biometrics system is also aimed at recording the movement of transit travellers on the Home Affairs’ enhanced Movement Control System (eMCS).