Cyber crime is rampant in South Africa

Posted on February 26, 2015 12:30 am

Currently, South African society is transforming into an “online society” as a result of the growing popularity of, among other things, social networking services, blogging, microblogging, chatting and gaming, to name a few examples. According to a national study by a group of University students, those statistical trends show that Internet dependency is on the rise as a result of the more widespread use of the technology. On the other hand, this is also accompanied by the increasing risk of cybercrime.In 2013, according to the data, there were many cybercrime incidents including identity theft, account hijacking for fraudulent purposes like defamation, fraud, online gambling, pornography, money laundering and terrorist financing. Despite the existence of the Law on Electronic Information and Electronic Transactions in Africa’s most developed country, many of these cases remain unsolved due to particular inherent difficulties in investigating cybercrimes such as jurisdictional problems and a lack of skilled human resources.

Although some may think that cybercrime only happens in cyberspace and losses are just financial figures, in reality it is more than meets the eye. It is frightening to imagine what criminals in South Africa could do with the huge amount of proceeds from their crimes and that has changed the country as we know in many ways, particularly related to national security issues.Reports from various organizations around South Africa and neighboring countries where some of them operate indicate that cybercrime has been a common means of funding wildlife crime activities in the country and the region. Credit card fraud, for example, is believed to have been used by rhino killers inside Krueger National Park last year to to finance their activities, including some of the most devastating wildlife killings ever. In other words, when ignored, cybercrime could potentially threaten South Africa’s safety as well.To address this problem effectively, a holistic approach needs to be adopted that encompasses multiple areas such as detection, prevention and prosecution. For example, game wildlife customers in Asia and western countries awareness should always be enhanced by providing information and guidance for avoiding being bankrollers of sophisticated criminal networks.

On the other hand, law enforcement personnel’s knowledge and expertise in South Africa which is one of the most capable and formidable in Africa should also be upgraded for coping with cybercrime issues for the sake of effective investigations and prosecution of offenders. To minimize the jurisdictional problems regarding the borderless nature of cybercrime, extensive cooperation among law enforcement agencies should always be sought. To ensure the effectiveness of these efforts, cutting edge technology and strong legal system are among the essential elements in the process. A lack of law enforcers with adequate knowledge about electronic criminals and the courts’ unreadiness to try perpetrators have made South Africa and its neighbors a fertile ground for cyber crime, according to the study. The police have detained some wildlife traffickers and fraudsters several times but they could not take them to court because they are afraid the courts will deny electronic evidence as in the Criminal Code Procedures as it has happened in the past.

Contador Harrison