Hawks investigator lauds 'brilliant' cybercrime bill


Johannesburg - The head of the Hawks cybercrime unit, Piet Pieterse, has praised government’s revised Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill as a “brilliant piece of legislature”.

“I think it is a brilliant piece of legislature that will clearly assist law enforcement in eradicating the cybercrime phenomenon,” he told Fin24.  

Pieterse, who has been involved in the investigation of cybercrimes since the early 2000s, said that over the years cybercriminal activity has evolved and become more complex. 

“There is a lot more difficulty in investigating these type of cases and presenting evidence in court, and the bill will clearly assist us in presenting cases to make the necessary impact in cybercrimes,” he said.  

On Thursday, the final draft of the Cabinet-approved Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill was presented to media during a briefing by the Justice and Constitutional Development Department.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery said the bill would not empower the State Security Agency to control the internet or spy on local users.

The bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in coming weeks after receiving Cabinet approval.

READ: State 'not seeking surveillance' with cybersecurity bill

“The bill places an obligation on government to investigate and deal with cybercrime and the aspect of capacity building is quite vital within law enforcement,” Pieterse said. 

“Although we are dealing with cybercrime within a specialised environment, I think that it is equally important to have a holistic approach in the South African Police Service in order to convey that basic knowledge of what the elements of cybercrime are to normal policemen out there,” he added. 

Pieterse told Fin24 that the bill is of an international benchmarking standard, was much needed and will aid cooperation with security agencies abroad. 

READ: Controversial cybersecurity bill gets Cabinet approval

“The Hawks have declared cybercrime as a priority offence which is dealt with on a specialised level, and the focus on digital forensic investigations is paramount. We cannot work without international law enforcements,” he said.  

With an increase in data usage in the country, coupled with the falling cost of data, Pieterse said cyberspace is a safe environment provided users are cautious and don’t take unnecessary risks, and are knowledgeable about cybersecurity breaches.

“The number of incidents may not have drastically increased, but the intensity and complexity of the crime as well as the value has increased tenfold,” he said. 

“It is disturbing to the see the intensity of incidents and the damage caused by cybercrime,” he told Fin24.

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