Programme Director,

Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba

Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Fatima Chohan

National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sithole

Acting Divisional Commissioner for Forensic Services, Fingerprints and related Databases in SAPS, Lieutenant General Dumisa Magadlela

Representatives of SITA, CSIR, EOH and all DHA partners

Our Sister Departments in the JCPS Cluster

Members of the Media

Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


It gives me great pleasure to open officially the launch of the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) Project. We are grateful to all of you for accepting our invitation, and for gracing with your presence, this landmark in the transformation of the Department of Home Affairs.

I take this opportunity to welcome warmly, all participants – our Honourable Ministers, and the Deputy Minister, partners in the ABIS project, the State Information and Technology System (SITA), CSIR, Leaders in Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS), the Department of Police, EOH, Members of the Media, all Stakeholders present, Managers and Officials.

There is no better time than this to unveil the new biometric system. Recently, the department had faced a barrage of complaints from clients about waiting times at offices. Corporate South Africa has also been asking: ‘How best can government help citizens in tackling the scourge of identity-theft and other crimes?’

ABIS constitutes a vital component of the quest to reposition the department to the extent that it properly and fully discharges its mandate to meet people’s expectations, by, among other things, capitalising on opportunities of a rapidly changing, globalised, digital world we live in.

The plea, from the public, for better services, is informed by the reality that services we offer cannot be found anywhere else. Citizens, organs of state and the private sector, depend on mandatory services we offer. We register citizens’ births, thus confirming identity and civil status.

As you know, the Department of Home Affairs is responsible for the identification system. It hosts the fingerprints system. For the last twenty years or so, in carrying out this task, we relied on HANIS, a biometrics database which spans the entire democratic era. HANIS has now run its course. It cannot be refreshed. It is in a proverbial ICU. Other shortcomings are that HANIS,

  • Offers only fingerprint-based and latent searches, which are inefficient,
  • Works in isolation, and thus duplicates are too common,
  • Poses risks of fraud, mainly in verification of birth registration,
  • Has limitations on capability hardware; with no replacement parts,
  • Is overly manual, and has no seamless integration with modern technology,
  • Has features that are antiquated and insufficient for rigorous demands of a digital world.

The current main site and Disaster Recovery site of HANIS are outdated. In light of these challenges, of a system well beyond its ‘sell-by-date’, we went out on a vigorous tender process for a new system, through the State Information and Technology System.

Our approach was informed by the need for integration within government. We collaborated with the JCPS Cluster. This was made possible by Cabinet’s decision to relocate Home Affairs from the Governance & Administration cluster to the JCPS cluster.

We can make bold to say, with the launch of the ABIS project we are opening new pathways towards smarter platforms and new ways of delivering public services.

With these few words, I welcome all of you, and our Principals, to this ground-breaking launch of the ABIS project – a base for a new national identification system.

Thank you.