The Cybercrimes Bill was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 26 May 2021, but the first parts of the Act have only recently come into effect on 1 December 2021, as per a proclamation signed by the President on 30 November 2021. The Act is the first dedicated, streamlined cybercrimes legislation in South Africa and has been long-awaited, given the need to adapt our legal framework to deal with the new dynamics of the information and communications age.
It creates a number of new criminal offences and provides for new forms of recourse for online and technology-based crimes. For example, the Act provides for a person who has been subject to malicious communication to be able to apply for a protection order. Notably, it also criminalises the sharing of intimate images of a person on social media without their permission.
The parts of the Act that have now come into effect include those setting out the types of cybercrimes and malicious communications, including the sentencing of offences, and those referring to the jurisdiction of the courts, including over offences committed outside South Africa that have a local effect, and the powers of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to investigate, search, access, and seize articles used in the commission of cybercrimes.
It is expected that the further provisions of the Act will come into effect shortly once the accompanying regulations are finalised. These provisions relate to, amongst other things, the creation of a special office within SAPS to assist with investigations into cybercrimes and the reporting obligations of electronic communications service providers and financial institutions with regard to cybercrimes.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].