On 1 July 2011, the requirement for the de-activation of all unregistered SIM cards as per the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act, 2002 (‘RICA’) became effective.
Following the cut-off date, at a joint press briefing between the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development (DoJ) and the Department of Communications (DoC), the issue of the sale of fraudulently preregistered SIMs was addressed.
Vodacom has identified almost one million SIMs which have been registered but not yet activated. All of these SIMs have now been deregistered. This means that these SIMs cannot be sold and used without first being registered in the new customer’s name. Supporting this measure, Vodacom has also implemented a process whereby all SIMs registered but not activated within 30 days will automatically be deregistered. The company is also checking all instances where numerous SIM cards were registered in the name of a single customer.
In the case of company registrations, Vodacom will verify the details of these companies with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. All new registrations undertaken in a company name will also be checked in the same way.
In addition to this, Vodacom is embarking on an education campaign to remind customers that all SIMs must be registered in the user’s name. Furthermore, Vodacom will reiterate that the RICA Act imposes severe penalties on anyone who fails to register their details or provides fraudulent information. The potential penalties include a fine or imprisonment, or both. Customers will also be reminded of their legal obligation to report lost or stolen SIM cards to the police.
Speaking about the initiative, Portia Maurice, Chief Officer Corporate Affairs said:
“Vodacom fully supports the goal of reducing crime and we’re pleased to work with the Department of Justice to ensure that not only the letter but also the spirit of RICA is being implemented. By taking these actions, we’re closing down avenues that criminals could use to hide their identity. We’ll continue to engage with the relevant authorities as they implement additional measures to stamp out fraudulent activity.”
Customers can report RICA fraud such as the sale of preregistered SIM cards by calling 082 111. The information will be handed to Vodacom’s forensic department who will investigate and take the appropriate action. Customers can alternatively report such incidents to the police.
If any Vodacom customers have purchased a SIM in the last two years that they were not asked to register, they should call 082 111 and notify the RICA team who will help them properly register the SIM to avoid any penalties.