South Africa’s RICA law has been ruled ‘unlawful and invalid’

sim card pexels rica south africa

On Monday, some elements of South Africa’s RICA act have been ruled unconstitutional, “unlawful and invalid” by the South Gauteng High Court.

RICA, or the “Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act”, was passed in 2003 to “regulate the interception of certain communications” in the country.

For the likes of smartphone users, it also meant that a proof of address and ID card were required to purchase any new SIM card.

On Monday, the ruling given by High Court Judge Roland Sutherland, suggests that some elements of it do not adhere to the constitution.

While issues centre on the clarification of procedures of notifying those under the eye of surveillance and clarify in procedure when state officials are in possession of the information, the court also flagged the act’s grey-area when surveillance is conducted on a journalist or lawyer.

For amaBhungane, which brought the case to the court in 2017, and all journalists in South Africa, this is a landmark ruling.

The investigative journalism house filed the application after it was found that communications from one of its journalists, Sam Sole, was intercepted while reporting on former president Jacob Zuma.

And according to a News24 piece, it’s not the only time a journalist has come under the surveillance spotlight in South Africa.

The court has allowed parliament two years to amend the act to adhere to the constitution.

Feature image: Silvie Lindemann via Pexels

Andy Walker
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