Cybercrime Bill Goes Through Second Reading in Botswana

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Parliament last week adopted the Cybercrime Bill with amendments by Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. With the Bill, government wants to make it a crime to repress criminal activities perpetrated through computer systems and to facilitate the collection of electronic evidence.

The Bill will go for third reading in the near future before it is signed into a law.

According to the minister's amendments, offenders or accomplices will be fined between P10, 000 and P100, 000 depending on the gravity of the offence. Venson-Moitoi explained to the House that they imposed a minimum prison term as a deterrent and that the cybercrime offences can impact negatively on national operations such as interference with civil servants' salaries or general elections.

However, MP for Lobatse Nehemiah Modubule was not happy with the idea of minimum terms, saying Parliament should give judges an opportunity to exercise their discretionary powers. He argued that in some instances, offenders would have been used either by their employers or did not know that they were committing a crime. He added that those who do not have money to pay the fines are going to rot in jails. Minister of Justice, Defence and Security Phandu Skelemani, who is also former Attorney General, and Local Government Minister Margaret Nasha supported Venson-Moitoi stating that would-be offenders would avoid the crime because of the heavy punishment involved. There were a total of 16 amendments that the minister proposed and all were accepted.

Mmegi/The Reporter