South African government says biometric data collection for tourists necessary

South Africa’s Home Affairs director general Mkhuseli Apleni said at a recent meeting that it was necessary to collect fingerprint biometric data of all tourists visiting the country because it helps to identify individuals, especially when a crime has been committed, according to a report by All Africa.

Apleni emphasized the importance of capturing fingerprints of all the people visiting the country at a Pretoria-based meeting where key tourism and immigration stakeholders discussed developments on the immigration regulations.

In April 2015, the Department of Home Affairs began rolling out the biometric capturing system to capture travelers’ fingerprints at the country’s international airports.

At the time, the department said the biometric system will be implemented at six of South Africa’s busiest land ports of entry.

At the meeting, Apleni explained that the department is currently working on solutions to avoid delays, particularly at OR Tambo International Airport.

Apleni said he hopes that all other countries would also install a biometric system to avoid delays at ports of entry.

“People don’t have to wait long to have their fingerprints taken,” Apleni said. “Capturing of fingerprints of foreign nationals helps identify them when a crime has been committed. We also want to know every individual who is in the country.”

The system is currently being used at OR Tambo International Airport and will likely be expanded to other major airports.

Aneme Malan, deputy director-general at the Department of Tourism, said the department is working closely with the Department of Home Affairs to set and enforce visa regulations as the number of tourists in South Africa continues to increase.

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