Justice Home The Constitution Flag

Media Statements

Home> Newsroom> Statements

Minister Ronald Lamola welcomes the coming into operation of certain sections of the Cybercrimes Act

01 December 2021

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Ronald Lamola, MP has welcomed the coming into operation of certain sections of the Cybercrimes Act, 2020 (Act No. 19 of 2020) with effect from 1 December 2021.

“It was necessary to align our law with international trends and best practices. Another consideration is the evolving nature of cybercrime. The methods of committing cybercrimes change rapidly and our laws need to keep pace with the more intrusive and complex investigative measures which are needed to investigate cybercrime.

Various countries, including other countries on our continent have enacted or are in the process of enacting cyber-specific laws to deal with cybercrimes,” said Minister Lamola.

The Act streamlines the laws of South Africa which deal with cybercrime into a single law that criminalises conduct considered to be cybercrimes.

The Act also criminalises the disclosure of data messages which are harmful and provides for protection orders to protect victims against harm. The Act also regulates the powers to investigate cybercrimes.

Cybercrime, being transnational in nature, requires collaboration with other countries, and the Act regulates aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes. To ensure proper coordination of cases in South Africa, the Act provides for the establishment of a Point of Contact within the South African Police Services.

The Act also imposes obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions to report cybercrimes to the SAPS and provides for capacity building by the SAPS to detect, prevent and investigate cybercrimes.

As empowered by the Act itself, different sections of the Act may come into operation on different dates. In this regard, the President has put into operation substantial portions of the Act. The sections that come into operation on 1 December 2021 are referred to below -
Offences: Chapter 2, with the exclusion of Part VI,1 will come into operation on 1 December 2021. These sections create offences, which include, among others, offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, computer programs and computer systems; offences facilitated by cyber means, such as cyber fraud; aggravated offences to protect essential computer systems and persons against harm as a result of criminal conduct in cyberspace; the disclosure of data messages which incite damage to property or violence; which threatens persons with damage to property or violence; or of an intimate image of a person.

Jurisdiction: Chapter 3 affords our courts the ability to deal with cybercrime where these have occurred outside our borders, bearing in mind the transnational nature of cybercrime.

Powers of South African Police Services: Chapter 42 regulates the powers of the SAPS to investigate cybercrime or other offences that are committed or facilitated by cyber means.

Proof of certain facts by Affidavit: Chapter 7 provides for the designation by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services of the category of persons who are competent to make an affidavit.

Reporting Obligations and Capacity Building: Chapter 8 deals with reporting obligations and capacity building and will come into operation on 1 December 2021 (with the exclusion of section 54.)3

The sections which are being put into operation on 1 December aim to ensure that the SAPS is adequately capacitated and trained to deal with cybercrimes; that verifiable statistics of the extent of cybercrime in South Africa is available; the effectiveness and capacity of the SAPS to investigate cybercrimes can be evaluated, and the capacity of the NPA to prosecute cybercrimes can be evaluated.

Certain sections of the Act could not yet be put into operation as they require regulations which are still to be finalised. These sections include, amongst others, those relating to protection orders against the harmful disclosure of pornography and the establishment of a functional Point of Contact within the SAPS to coordinate cybercrime investigations within the Republic and to facilitate international cooperation.

The remaining sections will be put into operation in due course, once the concomitant regulations have been finalized.

“Cybercrime is a reality of the world we live in. More and more criminals are exploiting the internet and online means to commit a diverse range of crimes. We therefore need to make cyber space safer and more secure,” said Minister Lamola.


Enquiries
Chrispin Phiri
Spokesperson: Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Contact: +27(0) 81 781 2261

_____

1 Part VI of Chapter 2 provides for orders to protect victims from the harmful effects of malicious communications. The implementation of the sections in Part VI is dependent on regulations that have not yet been finalised and will therefore not be put into operation at this stage.
2 With the exclusion of sections 38(1)(d), (e) and (f), 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 - The preservation of evidence and production orders in terms of sections 38(1)(d), (e) and (f), 40 to 44 are new procedural powers afforded to the SAPS to investigate cybercrimes. The implementation of those sections is dependent on regulations that have not yet been finalized.
3 In terms of section 54, Electronic Communications Service Providers (ECSPs) and financial institutions are obliged to report certain categories of cybercrime to the SAPS and to preserve any information which may assist the SAPS in the investigation of an offence. This section can only be put into operation if the category or class of offences that must be reported and the manner in which it must be reported to the SAPS have been determined by the Minister of Police.