The Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs (Interior), Mkhuseli Apleni, has stressed the need to have fingerprints of all tourists or travellers visiting the country to help identify the person, especially when a crime has been committed.

Speaking at a meeting of key tourism and immigration stakeholders here Wednesday, Apleni emphasised the importance of taking fingerprints of all the people visiting the country.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss developments on the immigration regulations. In April last year, the department introduced the Biometric system which captures travellers’ fingerprints at South Africa’s international airports.

At the time, the department said the biometric capturing system would be rolled out at six of South Africa’s busiest land ports of entry. With regard to delays, Apleni said they are currently working on ways to avoid delays, especially at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

Apleni shared his hope that all other countries would follow suit in using the biometric system to avoid delays at ports of entry.

“People don’t have to wait long to have their fingerprints taken. 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,” he said.

Currently, the system is being used at OR Tambo International Airport and is expected to be rolled out at other major airports.

Aneme Malan, the Deputy Director-General at the Department of Tourism, said the department ws working closely with the Department of Home Affairs with regard to visa regulations. Malan said there had been an increase in the number of tourists arriving in the country.

“As a sector we feel we haven’t reached our potential as yet, there are some areas that needs further engagement and we will continue to engage with the department,” she said.