Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Econet files urgent application to suspend ZRP search warrant over privacy concerns

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

Econet Wireless on Monday filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court to suspend the execution of a court judgment on the Magistrate’s decision to grant the police with a search and seizure warrant last week Friday.

Outside the Econet Wireless headquarters in Harare
Outside the Econet Wireless headquarters in Harare

The Magistrate Court granted the police the search and seizure warrant on basis that the state security had claimed it was investigating the country’s top mobile telephone operator for suspected money laundering.

The court application cited the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) commissioner General Godwin Matanga, Mkhululi Nyoni and Magistrate Richard Maboa as respondents. Econet argued the search warranty could violated “right to privacy.”

“The applicant is the largest provider of mobile telecommunications services in Zimbabwe. It operates a mobile telecommunications network known as Econet with 11 210 197 registered subscribers as of July 2020.

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“On July 17 2020, the 2nd Respondent [Mkhululi Nyoni], who is in the employ of the ZRP, deposed to an affidavit stating that he is investigating allegations of violations of the Money Laundering Act and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter9:24) by the Applicant.

“Based on the affidavit, the 3rd respondent issued a Warrant of Search and Seizure against the applicant authorising any peace officer to search and seize unnamed premises of the Applicant for all subscriber/customer information in its database, all financial statements showing monetary transactions and summary of transient e-money/airtime credit sales. This information must cover the period from 2 January to 30 June 2020.

“The Warrant of Search and Seizure is unlawful and constitutes a violation of the Applicant’s right to privacy and also the right to privacy of the Applicant’s subscribers. The Warrant of Search and Seizure is also widely and generally couched that it is susceptible to being set aside.

“The present application has been brought on an urgent basis to suspend the Warrant of Search and Seizure pending its setting aside on the return date,” Econet argued.

The police wanted Econet to disclose its customers’ details and records of all transactions conducted within the first half of 2020 as a stand off between the government and the company escalates. Nehanda Radio