AfriForum says it has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to the joint standing committee on intelligence following reports of widespread unlawful wiretapping by South Africa’s security cluster.
The civil rights organisation filed its application following the report of retired Constitutional Court judge Bess Nkabinde, the designated judge responsible for evaluating lawful interception requests.
South Africa’s provisions for lawful interception are contained in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica).
While most South Africans know Rica as the law that requires you to give proof of identity and address to a cellular service provider to activate a SIM card on their network, it also establishes the office of the interception judge.
Nkabinde’s report raised concerns and revealed irregularities about police officers who lied to obtain interception orders that allowed them to spy on people’s private communications.
Based on this report, AfriForum instructed its legal team to investigate possible legal action.
Nkabinde revealed that there is no way for her office to verify whether the applications they receive from law enforcement are truthful or not.
“Undisputed evidence was before Court that in certain instances the agencies can obtain fictional intelligence report about an individual,” stated Nkabinde.
AfriForum said its legal team urgently demanded answers on how many of the interceptions led to investigations, arrests, prosecutions and sentencing, and for how long an application to intercept communication is valid.
“It is extremely worrying that a culture of corruption, together with broken systems and mismanagement, has also left a gap in the South African Intelligence Service for abuse of power and criminal activities,” said Jacques Broodryk, campaign manager at AfriForum.