The compulsory registration of all SIM cards in use, in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), will come into effect from tomorrow (1 July 2009).
The Act requires mobile operators Cell C, MTN and Vodacom, as well as other service providers such as Nashua Mobile, Autopage and Virgin Mobile South Africa, to register on secure databases the identities, physical address and cellular phone numbers of new and existing customers who buy SIM cards.
All cellphone subscribers, both Prepaid and Contract, will be required to show proof of identity as well as present a utility bill to show proof of residence to RICA agents in order to be registered.
Customers will have 18 months from implementation date to register both their prepaid and contract SIM cards and SIM cards of subscribers that fail to comply with RICA within the specified time period will be deactivated.
The Act is intended to assist law enforcement agencies with tracing criminals where cellphones are used to commit major crimes.
“The bulk of the Act was implemented in 2005, and the cellphone operators are already assisting the law enforcement agencies to a great extent in performing their duties,” says Shenanda Janse van Rensburg, Cell C’s executive head: corporate communications.
“However, the implementation of sections 40 and 62 which require the registration of subscribers, were deferred to finalise a more efficient and practical solution from the original paper based system and it is this amended process requiring face to face verification that is becoming effective on 1 July 2009.
"Cell C understands the important role that the electronic communications industry plays in ensuring our national safety and is ready for the introduction of the outstanding requirements of RICA.”
Group executive of MTN SA, Zolisa Masiza says: “MTN is looking forward to the implementation of RICA, particularly that it would deal with the issue of stolen cellphones which consumers have been raising with MTN.”
“Vodacom welcomes the introduction of the RICA Act which should help to make South Africa a safer place,” says Dot Field, chief communications officer of the Vodacom Group.
“We support the good intentions of the Act and are committed to reducing the market for stolen cell phones in South Africa. In the implementation of subscriber registration according to the Act we will strictly adhere to the letter of the law, whilst making the registration process as easy and accessible as possible for all our customers,” Field says.
RICA requires everyone to register his or her active SIM cards. In terms of the legislation new SIM cards will only be activated on the cellular networks once registered and existing cellphone numbers that are already active on the cellular networks must be registered within 18 months from 1 July 2009.
Customers need to be aware that only SIM cards need to be registered and not cellphones.
When registering, customers will need to have their cellphone number and provide the full names and surname, together with proof of identity, as well as proof of their physical address.
Registration must be done in person and cannot be done telephonically. Trained RICA officers will be deployed nationally and are ready to assist customers with the registration process.
Cell C customers can register at all Cell C franchise stores or at stores where they see a RICA sign. Alternatively, they contact Cell C’s contact centre on 140 (free of charge) from a Cell C cellphone or 084 140 from any other phone for more information on RICA.
MTN customers can register at all MTN’s services centres across the country and in the event customer need guidance and clarity the MTN customer care number is 173, free from an MTN cellphone or 083 173 from any other phone, for prepaid subscribers.
Vodacom customers can register their SIM cards at any Vodacom outlets or they can contact our Customer Care Centre on 111, free from a Vodacom cellphone, or 082 111 from any other phone to find the nearest RICA agent where they can register their SIM card.