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SA operators band together to fight crime

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South Africa's telecom operators have joined forces to establish a new non-profit organization aimed at tackling crime impacting the telco industry.

The new organization is called the Communication Risk Information Centre (COMRiC) and is supported by MTN SA, Vodacom, Telkom SA, Cell C and Liquid Intelligent Technologies.

The group said in an emailed statement that COMRiC "will primarily focus on the sector's collective identification, mitigation and prevention of the common risk issues within the industry" and the key focus for 2022 will be on critical infrastructure network vandalism, commercial crimes and cybersecurity.

"The formation of COMRiC has enabled formal discussion and solution finding between operators to handle the risks they face. It has also created a platform through which we will engage society on issues of related crime and support government in the overall fight against crime in South Africa," said Vernall Muller, COMRiC's CEO.

Vandalism and battery theft costs SA operators hundreds of millions of rands each year.

Muller believes the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the advent of load shedding and related power cuts have contributed to the upsurge in these type of crimes in recent years.

"Telecommunications infrastructure which is the backbone of the information age is particularly vulnerable to attack and this escalating crime has translated into loss of service and network integrity," added Muller.

The group has also established the Critical Infrastructure Monitoring Operations Centre (CiMOC) that will operate under the newly formed COMRiC structure.

The CiMOC will prioritize the collective monitoring of critical network infrastructure theft and vandalism across the combined South African telco network footprint. This includes working closely with the South African Police Service to identify and apprehend suspects in network vandalism, store robberies, battery theft and fraudulent application scenarios including commercial crimes, among other things.

"The industry recognises that criminals do not discriminate when it comes to which network, they target. As such, collective working as the Telecommunication Industry provides benefits in terms of risk management for all operators irrespective of market share. The opportunity exists for creating a safer environment that may lead to uninterrupted customer experience in the telecommunication space," Muller concluded.

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*Top image source: pelegraphy on Pixabay.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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