File picture: Boxer Ngwenya/Independent Media
Cape Town - Despite claims that there would be a crackdown on vendors selling illegal SIM cards, pre-Rica’d SIM cards are available at some Long Street shops.

Two SIM cards were bought for R20 each at different vendors in Long Street without any hassle. The cards were pre-registered with the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (Rica) and are still widely available.

Communications regulatory adviser, Dominic Cull, said the enforcement of the Rica by-law had always been an issue as pre-Rica’d cards had been readily available for many years.

“The name ‘pre-Rica’ says it all. Rica was never going to work 100% all the time and the informal trade is difficult to police and enforce, which makes it easy for crime to be committed. Pre-Rica’d SIMs impact the SAPS’s ability to investigate crime. SAPS can get an interception direction from a judge to monitor your calls. The department of justice is looking at reviewing Rica. I expect to see the report sometime this year,” said Cull.

Vodacom spokesperson, Edlin Naidoo said Vodacom was aware of vendors selling pre-Rica’d SIM cards and to counter that, the network deactivates Rica SIM cards that are inactive for a period of time, forcing customers to rica again.

“Rica is clear in these instances, both the buyer and seller are committing an offence.

“Where we act as a vendor, it is our responsibility to ensure that the customer is registered in compliance with Rica.

“Vodacom routinely conducts daily checks to track that Rica compliant SIM cards are live and can make calls

“In the event where a specific cellphone number has been used in committing a crime, Vodacom could be subpoenaed to provide the details of vendors that falsely registered the SIMs,” Naidoo said.

Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services spokesperson Steve Mahlangu said the department had been aware of the sale of pre-Rica’d SIM cards since 2009.

He said allegations of illegal vendors were reported to the police.

Mahlangu confirmed that Rica was under review.

“Legislation that deals with the interception of communications is complex in nature and requires extensive research and consultation with interested parties before amendments can be finalised.

“This review is under way,” he said.

“The department is mainly responsible for the administration of the Act and its implementation.

“Various meetings were held to address the unlawful distribution of pre-activated SIM cards.

“During the reviewing process of the Rica, further legislative measures may be introduced to curb the unlawful distribution of pre-activated SIM cards,” said Mahlangu.

@IAmAthinaMay

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Cape Argus