New ID cards 'hard to forge'

New ID smartcards will be harder to forge but easy to produce, the Home Affairs Department says.

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma shows her new ID smart card during a media briefing in Cape Town 25 April, 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

PRETORIA - The new identity document (ID) smartcards will cut back on fraud and make identity theft virtually impossible, the Department of Home Affairs said on Thursday.

The cards are due to be piloted in certain parts of the country within the next six months.

Old ID books will be recalled and replaced by the new system in 18 months.

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the new plastic-illuminated cards will contain secret layers and hidden features.

"Even some of the officials don't quite know [how it works]. There is no one rogue official who can do everything [to duplicate the card]."

A black and white photo of the owner is printed directly onto the pastel-coloured cards, making it more difficult to switch pictures.

The smartcards will be read electronically and will have no magnetic strip.

The system also requires a fingerprint key.

Dlamini-Zuma said the smartcards will be easy to produce, but very hard to duplicate.