ZRP ill-equipped to fight soaring cyber crime

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has (ZRP) conceded that it is not well-resourced to fight cyber crime despite the crime increasing at an alarming rate.

Presenting at MISA  Zimbabwe – organised ‘multi-stakeholders internet governance forum’ on Friday, Superintendent Amos Tavaziva  of the Cyber Crime Unit in the ZRP Commercial Crime Division  said the police has  a deficient in resources needed  to effectively  execute  policing duties to curb cyber crime.

“We are facing a lot of challenges in our quest to stop   cyber offenses that include lack of
tools(hardware) ,reliance of internet service providers to furnish us with
information which also require a court order.

“Because the crimes can be transnational it then required international co-operation which in itself is a hurdle,” said Superintendent Amos Tavaziva.

The Cyber Crime Unit was established in 2015 and ever since its inception it has realised an upsurge in criminal activities in the digital world that include  mobile money transfer fraud,  card cloning among many other.

In 2016 police recorded 25 cyber crime   cases   and it picked the next year with 38 cases but 2018 has already seen over 600 cases being reported  before the year- end which  Superintendent Tavaziva attributed to the increasing use of plastic and mobile money.

Superintendent Tavaziva said while   plans   are at an advanced stage to set up a
laboratory to fight the scourge there is a bias towards ‘traditional’ crimes in
  priority by the police force.

“We would like to appreciate the efforts that have been done   towards
setting up a lab which will go a long way in fighting the cyber crimes but
generally   traditional  crimes like rape and murder are given much
priority,” added Tavaziva.

Another puzzle for the police force has been the lack of clear
laws on cyber crimes as they have to scrounge for the existing laws to effect
charges which can be successfully be challenged in courts.

Nhlanhla Ngwenya of
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) implored  African governments to strengthen data
protection laws in the wake of abuse of personal data by governments
departments or private entities.

“There is the
inherent need by most African countries to expedite strengthening of  data protection laws so that there is no
wanton abuse of people ‘s personal data,”Ngwenya said.

There was an outcry by many Zimbabwean during the July 30 elections eve when Zanu PF sent people texts soliciting for votes.

In Africa only 22
countries have data protection laws and Zimbabwe is yet to ascend the Cyber
Security and Cyber Crime Bill into law which incorporates the Data Protection
Bill which MISA Zimbabwe has said should be a stand-alone bill because   of its vital nature.