THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is grappling with prosecuting cybercrimes, as some prosecutors do not have the expertise to investigate crimes committed online.
Criminals exploit the convenience and anonymity of the internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that cause serious harm by taking advantage of peoples’ limited digital knowledge.
Speaking on behalf of the NPA at the belated United Nations Anti-Corruption Day commemorations Monday, Bulawayo prosecutor, Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, claimed there was an upward trend in cybercrimes and there was limited expertise to deal with the scourge.
She said NPA was still constrained on how to deal with cybercrime as the authority had resource and skills challenges.
“As such, we need your help to boost expertise and our response to cyber crimes,” the prosecutor said.
Since the internet is expanding fast it requires an online-oriented approach and Ndlovu said NPA was still coming to grips with the reality of digitalisation.
“When we got to courts for trials, lawyers come in carrying their ipads while we prosecutors carry volumes of documentations of the law and we have to go through the acts manually. Sometimes we have to seek an adjournment as we have to seek for the particular act,” she highlighted.
Ndlovu emphasised that the NPA needed a systems upgrade and training on information communication technologies, in order to conform to the changes taking place online.
This, she said would enhance the skills of prosecutors, lessen time-consuming searches manually and make them ready to deal with cybercriminals.
“Since cybercrimes have been enacted in law (the Cybercrime and Cyber-security Bill) to deal with online crimes, we have to be trained to effectively deal with perpetrators. We need IT experts to crack online crimes. Last time I was handling a case, which required tracking an email and I was so confused,” she said.
Ndlovu said the NPA was calling on stakeholders such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to partner with them and equip the authority.
The government crafted the Cybercrime and Cyber-security Bill to regulate internet conduct in Zimbabwe.
Among other points, the Cybercrime and Cyber-security Bill discusses security such as on breaking classified information, protecting corporates and citizens from attacks that could jeopardise massive amounts of data.
But observers and media lobby groups said the legislation is repressive and was created with authoritarian intentions to instil self-censorship among citizens.