Picture: Ritchie B Tongo /EPA
Picture: Ritchie B Tongo /EPA

Law to tighten noose on cybercrime long overdue, says Hawks boss

By Staff reporter Time of article published Feb 6, 2020

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Johannesburg - Head of the Hawks Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya has backed a new law that would clamp down on cybercrime, saying it was long-overdue.

Lebeya told members of the security and justice select committee in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday the Cybercrimes Bill would tighten the noose on criminals involved in organised crime.

He said when the Prevention of Organised Crime Act was passed in 1998 it intensified the fight against organised crime. “We appreciate this process of having this law passed. It is something that is long overdue,” said Lebeya.

The SAPS also said they were pushing for the tightening of the law to clamp down on cybercrime saying it costs the economy billions of rand.

Head of legal services in the police Brigadier Francois van Graan told the select committee the bill was a necessary piece of legislation to deal with the rising online crimes.

He said despite some of the objections by certain institutions on the clauses in the bill the police would have to act against syndicates.

He said cybercrime was a global problem and South Africa should not be left behind in dealing with this type of crime. Van Graan said some of the financial institutions were concerned about their wide-ranging powers on search and seizure.

“In our normal search and seizure regime we cannot allow a suspect to object. We will be held to ransom,” said Van Graan, adding that those who were objecting to their search and seizure powers should go to court.

“What we say, if a suspect raises an objection, that should be done in a court of law, but not in a crime scene,” said Van Graan.

He said the courts have been granting search warrants to the police when conducting operations and should continue to do so.

“Our job will come to a standstill if judges cannot assist us with search and seizure warrants. Any seizure of any nature courts assist us with seizure warrants. Why is cybercrime different?” he asked.

Van Graan added that they do have the capacity to deal with cybercrime as it was not something new.

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole said cybercrime had a huge impact on the economy. He said police were developing a strategy that would deal with it as it continued to evolve with criminals getting more sophisticated.

Police would also always have to be a step ahead of the criminals.

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