Govt warns on fraudulent SIM cards

2011-07-05 12:38
Johannesburg - Cellphone users should not be tempted to buy pre-registered SIM cards from traders because they contravene Rica legislation, the department of communications warned on Tuesday.

"It's illegal to buy any SIM card and get connected on any network without being requested to produce the required documentation, which is the proof of residence and identity document," said spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso.

"To my knowledge, no criminal case has been opened so far," he said, adding that the department had learned of the crime through the media.

Newspapers have reported that traders in Sunnyside and Arcadia, in Tshwane, were selling pre-registered SIM cards for about R20 a card.

Wrinkle in the Rica Act

These allowed cellphone owners to bypass the registration process which required documentation.

"The people selling the SIMs are people who are hellbent on breaking the law to make a profit," said Rikhotso.

He said residents should report the crime to the police so the perpetrators could be pursued.

Service provider Vodacom said there was a "wrinkle" in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) process, as people were registering multiple SIM cards.

"The registration of multiple SIMs is allowed, as many people use multiple mobile devices," said spokesperson Richard Boorman.

"We have no way to know what happens to the movement of SIMs between customers once they are registered."

800 000 Vodacom customers not Rica'd

Vodacom said it did not condone the sale of pre-registered SIM cards.

"Our responsibility is to ensure that SIM cards are registered according to the Rica Act, which involves confirming in person the [identity document] and address of the customer registering the SIM(s)," said Boorman.

"Any infringement of the Rica Act, such as reselling SIMs registered to other people, is a matter for the police," Cell C agreed.

By Tuesday morning, about 800 000 Vodacom customers had still not Rica'd and their SIM cards were disconnected.

Three percent of Cell C prepaid customers and 0.01% of its contract customers had not registered.

All of 8ta's customers had registered.

MTN spokesperson Bridget Bhengu was not immediately available for comment.
- SAPA
Read more on:    mtn  |  cell c  |  vodacom  |  cellphones
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