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State of Cyber laws in Zimbabwe and what needs to be done Now!!!

Cybercrimes are a growing concern for governments and nations, Zimbabwean government has been pushing for universal access of the Internet, encouraged the use of social media and is pushing for the use of digital e-governance services and the use of electronic and mobile money as a means of transacting. This new technology changes the criminal environment and generates challenges for law enforcement agencies, legal system and society.  As we were updating our Cyber Security awareness booklet we requested for Cybercrime statistical data from January 2018-2019 from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) covering:-

•  Phishing/Vishing/Smishing - personal information obtained usually through social engineering

•  misusing personal information (identity theft);

•  Denial of service attacks

•  Agent malpractices – split transactions, remote withdrawals

•  hacking: shutting down or misusing websites or computer networks;

•  spreading hate and inciting terrorism;

•  distributing child pornography;

•  Grooming: making sexual advances to minors.

•  Mobile Money fraud

•  Card cloning

•  Illegal SIM Swaps – use of fake identity documents or collusion

•  False transactions

Attached is the Monthly Cyber Security related crime statistics for the period January 2018 to April 2019 covering the ten provinces in Zimbabwe that are under the protection of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). From the report it is scary to note that ZRP does not have legal tools to fight, arrest and convict criminals of above mentioned crimes. In their report they were quoting sections from the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act referred to as the CODE which was last amended in March 2007, when the above mentioned crimes did not exist. Using the CODE the ZRP was not able to breakdown the cyber security Crimes as requested because they are not covered in the CODE.

From the finding presented to us, it is without a doubt that our police force is not equipped with the right laws to fight modern day Cyber Security Crimes. According to the report the number one cyber-crime is card cloning (referred to as fraud) with 9165 arrests and financial loss of  $325,607,070 from January 2018 to April 2019 which is not even covered or referenced in the CODE as an individual crime. Due to these challenges the ZRP officers have to look at ways of making (panel beating) it to be a crime and quoting section C/S 136 fraud, which defines it fraud as   

136      Fraud

Any person who makes a misrepresentation

(a)       intending to deceive another person or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of deceiving another person;  and

(b)       intending to cause another person to act upon the misrepresentation to his or her prejudice, or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that another person may act upon the misrepresentation to his or her prejudice;

shall be guilty of fraud if the misrepresentation causes actual prejudice to another person or is potentially prejudicial to another person and be liable to

(i)        a fine not exceeding level fourteen or not exceeding twice the value of any property obtained by him or her as a result of the crime, whichever is the greater; or

(ii)       imprisonment for a period not exceeding thirty-five years;

Furthermore, we will not bother to focus on some of the mentioned crimes because from our analysis the numbers are too small with no financial losses and we do not believe this is the true reflection of internet, electronic and mobile money cybercrimes. The reason why the numbers are so small is because we believe our security forces may be trained to identify internet, electronic and mobile money crimes but the CODE does not empower them to fully enforce the laws and there is no legislation and regulation to protect the citizens.

There is now a need for the Government of Zimbabwe to fully implement the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill and urgently engage the stakeholders to immediately amend the CODE so that it can address modern day crimes. The Zimbabwean parliament needs to adopt the effective substantive criminal legislation and procedural instruments that allow for the law enforcement agencies to fully investigate and prosecute for the misuse of the internet, electronic and mobile money devices to commit a crime.

Furthermore, there is now a need for our mainly privately owned mobile network operators, regulators, banks, ISP and other ICT companies inconjuction with ZRP to come up with a comprehensive strategy of addressing cybercrime. This should also include the development of the tools that allow effective cooperation with industry players and the private sector who should be encouraged to create self-regulation tools.

As part of our commitment to protect the citizens of a country ,we are in the process of creating Zimbabwe cybercrime online reporting network. This is a platform that allows us to alert the general public of cybercrimes that will be happening in Zimbabwe and beyond.  Furthermore, we now call for the government to kindly look at these cybercrimes as a matter of urgency because it is affecting all our citizens including us the ICT professionals with NO laws at all to protect us as citizens.

If you need any further explanation please do not hesitate to contact me on 0772278161

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About Article Author

Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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