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SIU taps Interpol’s database to fight cyber crime

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 13 Dec 2023
SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi and Interpol NCB’s brigadier Ntime Mokhine signing the MOU. (Image source: SIU)
SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi and Interpol NCB’s brigadier Ntime Mokhine signing the MOU. (Image source: SIU)

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) for South Africa that will allow the unit to have direct access to Interpol’s information system.

The agreement was signed by SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi and Interpol NCB’s brigadier Ntime Mokhine.

“The MOU will strengthen the SIU’s investigating tools of trade and access to data systems to combat cyber crime,” the SIU says in a statement.

“Interpol NCB will provide the SIU with up-to-date training resources. The Interpol NCB has a network of data systems in 195 countries that the SIU can tap into.”

Mothibi says the MOU is aligned with the SIU’s current cyber crime and data analytics vision, and the previous agreements the SIU signed to build data analytics and forensics capacity, especially in the war against transnational organised crimes.

It will also provide the SIU with access to locate people outside of South Africa that the SIU needs to subpoena for questioning related to investigations, he notes.

“There is an alignment and synergy, and we look forward to making this work,” Mothibi says.

Mokhine explains the MOU paves the way for Interpol to build relationships with South African law enforcement agencies, while enabling law enforcement entities to extend their international reach.

“You cannot resolve domestic issues that are impacted by international forces by only utilising domestic instruments.”

NCB in Pretoria helps the South African Police Service (SAPS) to take part in police investigations beyond SA’s borders, and to share police intelligence with NCBs globally to detect emerging crime trends that could affect SA.

Through the NCB, SAPS regularly takes part in Interpol-led regional police operations, particularly when they focus on its priority crime areas.

It is also an active player in international fugitive investigations linked to SA or its citizens, helping countries bring globally-wanted criminals to justice.

According to Interpol, South African organised crime groups are typically involved in wildlife and forestry crime (particularly stock theft) and trafficking in drugs, firearms, people or counterfeit products.

It notes cyber crime is also a growing national concern. According to Interpol’s 2022 Africa Cyber Threat Assessment report, SA leads the continent in the number of cyber security threats identified.

The report notes that in 2022, SA had 230 million threat detections in total, while Kenya had 72 million and Morocco 71 million. In SA, 219 million detections were related to e-mail threats.

South Africa also had the highest targeted ransomware and business e-mail compromise attempts, Interpol points out.

Last year, the SIU and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) signed an MOU to use digital inventions to tackle the scourge of fraud, corruption and cyber-related crimes in SA.

Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini noted the fight against corruption and cyber crime is a major issue in SA.