Statement: R2K welcomes illegal bugging prosecution and calls for an end to surveillance abuses!
1 August 2017
R2K welcomes the conviction of former Crime Intelligence official Bongani Cele, who was found guilty of illegally spying on phone communications of two Sunday Times journalists, Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter in 2010.
Cele was sentenced to three years in jail, suspended for four years. We believe this may be SA's first successful prosecution for illegal bugging since RICA became law. Read more here.
Currently RICA allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies to intercept communications only with the permission of a judge. However, in this case, Cele slipped the journalists' phone numbers next to false names in order to get a warrant from the RICA judge. The Right2Know Campaign has repeatedly documented how RICA's systems are open to abuse. Surveillance is a major threat to human rights in South Africa.
In April last year, R2K called on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa to institute urgent reforms of RICA through an open and public process. In a separate case, RICA also now faces a constitutional challenge from amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, after one of their reporters was also targeted for surveillance.