Traders warned against breaking RICA laws

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pretoria - Government has sent a stern warning to traders who break the provisions of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA).

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Andries Nel, says some unscrupulous traders have bought large quantities of SIM-cards which are RICA'ed in their own names. This in turn allows individuals to buy these SIM cards without using their own personal details to RICA.

"These persons in doing so commit an offence and can and will be prosecuted. They undermine the legislation and jeorpardise its aim and objects. The SIM cards in question can be traced back to them and they will have to face the consequences of their actions," warned Nel.

Section 40 of the RICA act requires mobile operators, service providers and sellers to register the identities, physical address and cellular phone numbers of new and existing customers who purchase or have purchased SIM cards.

RICA came into effect on 1 July 2009 and the compliance deadline was 30 June 2011.

More than 95 percent of SIM cards have been registered from different Mobile Cellular Operators (MCOs).

Cell C has registered 99.9 percent of contracts and 97 percent of prepaid subscribers. MTN has registered 99.5 percent of contracts and 97 percent of prepared subscribers, while Vodacom has 98.98 percent of contracts and 95.12 percent of prepaid subscribers registered.

Speaking at a post-RICA campaign media briefing, Nel thanked the MCOs for supporting the process of encouraging South Africans to RICA their SIM cards.

He called on all people whose SIM cards have been deactivated to visit their mobile operators' outlets and reactivate their SIM cards in order to avoid the risk of losing their numbers.

He noted that minimal disruptions were encountered during the process of RICA.

"It's been a huge exercise achievement. The process went remarkable smoothly and has benefitted the service providers as well as consumers in terms of safety."

Responding to concerns about the protection of people's personal information, Deputy Minister of Communications, Obed Bapela, assured the users that their personal information is kept safe on the data of MCOs.

"The data ... of consumers stays with the service providers and can't be given to anyone," Bapela said.

While acknowledging that there is no limit on how many SIM cards each person could have, Bapela warned that if an individual registered for RICA on behalf of others, they would face the consequences should anything happen, which is against the law.

"Don't open yourself to such abuse. You can RICA for your family members and children, but not other people. Should something happen, you'll be the one facing the mighty hand of the law," warned Bapela.