Rica catches millions out

2011-07-02 00:00

OVER a million cellphone users in the country were disconnected after missing the deadline to register their SIM cards by midnight on Thursday.

Cellphone users had to register under the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication Related Information Act (Rica), which is supposed to help in the fight against crime.

Ashleigh Dubbelman, Vodacom’s senior specialist in corporate communications, said about a million SIMs were locked on their network after the RICA deadline.

She said they will keep the registration centres at schools and taxi ranks open until Monday to accommodate those who missed the deadline.

Eddie Moyce, MTN SA customer relationships executive, said they were still reconciling the numbers of customers who were affected by non-compliance with Rica, but said the numbers are “insignificant”.

Cell C chief executive officer Lars Reichelt said that of the company’s seven million customers, 0,01% of contract customers and three percent of prepaid customers did not meet the deadline.

One of the those affected, Ingrid Sinclair, poured out her frustration on Vodacom’s Facebook fan page after her SIM got blocked.

Sinclair said she was told that she was Rica’d when she called the Vodacom call centre, but woke up yesterday to find her phone disconnected. As a result, she said, she has lost two days’ worth of business.

Frank Knowles (51) of Clarendon who waited over an hour to register his three MTN business line SIM cards on Thursday, told Weekend Witness he was lucky that his connections were not cut off. He said he was disappointed at himself for leaving it so late after all the advertising urging cellphone users to Rica.

“Customers have a grace period of 120 days from the deadline date to reactivate their cut off lines or face the possibility of losing their numbers,” Cell C’s Reichelt warned.

To reactivate a number, users need to take their SIM card, along with a green barcoded ID document and recent proof of address, to Rica agents or network service provider stores to register.

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