SADC working on tackling cybercrime


Gaborone – Law enforcement agents from SADC member have resolved to have their governments devote more resources to fighting cybercrimes.

A cybercrime and cyber security workshop held in Botswana recently served as a suitable platform to exchange views and learning from best practices, policies and techniques for investigations, collection and analysis of evidence of cybercrime, especially for purposes of criminal proceedings.

Botswana’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Segakweng Tsiane, said preventive measures are generally more cost-effective than remedial strategies, adding that several fora and high-level dialogues have been held specifically on the subject matter at national, regional and global levels.

PS Tsiane said many SADC states continue to develop laws and procedures that are aimed at improving the ability to ensure the security against cybercrime, including systems for effective investigations and prosecutions of such crimes.

She cited as an example the Commonwealth and Attorneys-General Meeting held in Botswana last month, which recognised the importance of national, regional and global cybercrime initiative as the Commonwealth.

“The initiative recognises that an effective response to cybercrime must be holistic and it should be formed from many elements, including comprehensive legislation, special enforcement capability, public awareness and safety,” she said.

Eric Tamrkin, from South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, said given the reports that Africa is becoming a cybercrime safe haven, the problem could hamper economic growth, foreign investment and security.

“Policy makers need a cogent response to cybercrime which is informed by a clear understanding of emerging threats and how other countries have formed strategies in response; countries on the continent should adopt a multi-layered approach,” he said.

Also speaking at the workshop, Dr Ezekiel Okike from the Computer Science Department at the University of Botswana said business and government institutions can lose billions of dollars every year to cyber criminals.

“Many computer crimes are probably committed by company insiders and to avoid embarrassment many companies cover up computer crime committed by their own employees like the cashiers, clerks, programmers, managers. The typical computer criminal could be a trusted employee or former employee,” he warned.

Botswana’s General Counsel in the Office of the President Advocate Abraham Keetshabe, observed that “cybercrime by its nature knows no boundaries and may collapse the economy of any country.”

He added that “up until as recently as April 2014, no legislative framework to facilitate and enable the provision of e-services existed in Botswana. Laws tended to prohibit, rather than promote the use of ICT to provide services.”

Keetshabe said the Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act which came into force on December 28, 2007, did not provide for recognition of electronic signatures, authenticity of electronic documents and admissibility of electronic evidence, to name a few.

“These legal challenges are being addressed through the development of simple, consistent and technology-neutral legislation which recognizes all ICT processes and transactions – including recognition of electronic signatures as a valid authentication method for electronic transactions and give confidence to consumers, the business community and Government agencies participating in electronic transactions,” he said.

On his part, Detective Chief Inspector Esau Banda of the Zambia Police Service Fraud and Cyber Crimes Unit said his country is susceptible cybercrimes and the matter needs to be tackled with full force just like any other crime, if not even much more.

“Cyber crime personnel require more training and capacity building exercises,” he said.

The delegates heard that as in many African countries, there is nonspecific legislation on Cybercrime in Tanzania. 

However, there is progress and some measure of commitment by the government, while Mozambique was said to be employing an 1888 legislation to prosecute cybercrime offenders.

The workshop was also meant to advance regional cooperation and sector reform in cyber security, as it presented a good opportunity with regard to cyber security partnership between their respective governments.

June 2014
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