Smart identity cards, to replace the green, bar-coded identity books would be rolled out to first-time applicants and pensioners from Saturday, the department of home affairs said.
“The roll-out of the smart ID cards to all eligible South Africans will take a few years and the department accordingly makes an appeal for the public to exercise patience,” spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said.
First-time applicants who are 16 years old and above were eligible to apply for the smart ID from February, he said in a statement.
Pensioners, who were 60 years and above and were born during the month of January and February were also eligible to apply for the smart ID card from February.
From March, pensioners who are 60 years and above could start applying for the smart ID cards in accordance with their dates of birth, Mamoepa said.
All other South African citizens would be invited to apply.
Applications for the Smart ID card can only be made at 28 departmental offices across the country including.
It would take six or seven years to phase out the old identity documents (ID).
The South African company, Altech Card Solutions, had won the R40 million tender to supply the Government Printing Works (GPW) with card personalisation machines and an automated mailing solution, manufactured by DataCard in the US.
The leading identity card manufacturer, Gemalto Southern Africa, had won the Euro16m (about R199m) tender to supply pre-printed polycarbonate cards containing a contactless microchip.