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South Africa Suspends ‘Bulk Surveillance’ Due to Constitutional Court Ruling

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The State Security Agency (SSA) of South Africa has reportedly ceased its practice of bulk surveillance. This comes as a response to the recent verdict passed by the Constitutional Court, which banned bulk interception with immediate effect. The ruling was in response to a challenge lodged in 2017 by non-profit organisation amaBhungane against the constitutionality of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), the law directing targeted surveillance of individuals.



After a careful enquiry concerning the matter, Mava Scott, the spokesperson for intelligence, confirmed that the SSA has fully complied with the court's ruling. The confirmation came in communication with amaBhungane on February 18.


The confirmation, though deemed satisfactory, pointed to a steady resistance from the intelligence fraternity against accountability. This ongoing tussle for transparency within the organisation set acting DG Loyiso Jafta, who seeks a more open agency, against Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo.



AmaBhungane had expressed their concern towards the SSA’s overall accountability previously. They noted that while the possible disruption to the state’s intelligence collection could be unfortunate, it was nonetheless foreseeable since when they first challenged the act in 2017.


Arthur Fraser, the former SSA director, was instrumental in engineering SSA’s dismissive response to amaBhungane's high court application. According to Jafta, Fraser is a key player behind the agency's move towards unauthorized operations and political factionalism.


The SSA’s new stance seemingly marks the end of an era of unchecked surveillance practices, a hallmark of the organization since 1994. Further, amaBhungane’s investigations have emphasized the need for government and corporate institutions to be held accountable consistently.


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