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Ramaphosa Nips Twitter Trolls bullying In The Bud With Cybercrime’s Act.

Article by: Natalie Müller

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday 01 June 2021 that he has passed and signed the CYBERCRIMES ACT into law.

Following a lengthy amendment and review processes, the Bill eventually landed on the Presidents table on December 1st 2020 after being passed by the National Assembly. Ramaphosa officially passed the Bill and signed it into law on the 26th of May 2021, officially making it Act 19 of 2020.

Although the President has not indicated the official commencement date, this milestone sees a gleem of hope shining over the countries efforts, in the battle against crimes incited through means of electronic communications, such as harassment and bullying.

According to an article by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), South Africa has a cyberbullying rate of 24% which places it at number four in the world. The article details how DEATH among teenagers and adolescents is generally a rare occurrence, but a spike in suicides among young people has researchers eager to investigate the cause behind this disturbing trend.

Suicide is listed as the third largest cause of unnatural death in South Africa and it turns out, that social media is partly to blame by making it easier for bullies to hide behind avatars and thrive by harassing others.

In 2019, a 13-year-old girl from Pretoria, who was subjected to cyber-bullying, committed suicide after a photograph of her made the rounds at school, which was shared via WhatsApp by one of her peers.

The girl had been afraid to go to school and requested her mother to met with the school principal to resolve the matter, on the following Monday morning. Later on that Monday morning her mother found her exanimate body at home.

In another life threatening instance, a young girl Lufuno Mavhunga, a student at Mbilwi Highschool in Venda Limpopo, committed suicide after a series of cyber threats levelled at her. Lufuno’s cyber bully’s lived up to their promise as the threats were soon followed by a brutal assault, many stood on the sidelines and witnessed Lufuno get mercilessly attack by a group of her peers outside the school. The attack was captured on camera by spectators and circulated on social media.

Getting to know the Act:

The Cybercrimes Act was first published as the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill on 28 August 2015, updated on 19 January 2017 and was introduced in Parliament on 22 February 2017.

The purpose of the Act:

1.To create offences which have a bearing on cybercrime. 2. To criminalise the disclosure of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders. 3. To further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes. 4. To further regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes. 5. To further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes. 6. To provide for the establishment of a designated Point of Contact 7. To further provide for the proof of certain facts by affidavit. 8. To impose obligations to report cybercrimes. 9.To provide for capacity building; 10. To provide that the Executive may enter into agreements with foreign States to promote measures aimed at the detection, 11. prevention, mitigation and investigation of cybercrimes. 12. To delete and amend provisions of certain laws; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

A Glimpse into the Act:

The Act finds that: issues such as the unlawful acquisition, possession, provision, receipt or use of password, access code or similar data or device in regard to which there is a reasonable suspicion that such password, access code or similar data or device—
(a) was acquired; l
(b) is possessed;
(c) is to be provided to another person; or
(d) was used or may be used,
for purposes of contravening the provisions of section 2(1) or (2), 3(1), 5(1), 6(1), 8 or 9(1), and who is unable to give a satisfactory exculpatory account of such possession, is guilty of an offence.

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