Jul 18 2013, 1:04pm CDT | by Luigi Lugmayr
The new ID was launched at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Xinhua reported.
The government issued the new IDs to senior citizens, including Mandela, former president Thabo Mbeki, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, national liberation struggle stalwart Sophie De Bruyn and Mandela's Graca Machel.
Presenting the identity cards, Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor said: "This smart ID is symbolic with the struggle. We are giving them first to those who laid the foundation to our democracy."
"To Mandela, we are proud of you. You are an inspiration to the world and will continue to live in our hearts and mind," the minister said.
Pandor said the new identity document was an effort by the government to restore dignity to South Africans.
During the apartheid era before 1994, the blacks were forced to carry IDs which restricted them to particular areas.
After receiving his new smart identity document, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said: "As we celebrate Mandela's birthday today, we wish him many happy returns and speedy recovery."
Zindzi Mandela, daughter of Nelson Mandela, received the identity document on behalf of her father.
"I am not a doctor, but I can say my father is making remarkable progress, and we are looking forward to having him at home soon," she said.
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