South Africa's rather draconian Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) has been proving a thorn in the flesh of legal foreign visitors to our fair shores, who obviously have some difficulty in providing the requisite proof of address in the country (utility bill etc. in the purchaser's name) when activating a local SIM card for use during their visit. To my delight, one of my relatives who is visiting from the desert republic of Namibia managed to have a SIM card for a network that shall not be named fully activated at a retail establishment which shall remain anonymous for now in the week before Christmas. He simply presented his Namibian passport and recited a local address!
Having undergone several RICA registrations myself, I am note entirely surprised since I have not seen any of the assistants doing the registration do any serious checking of the proof of address (and mine consisted only of a routine statement from my residential complex) and I have not seen them keep a copy of the proof presented. There is therefore, in practice, no paper trail at all. It does not seem infeasible to use a colour printer to produce a duplicate Telkom or municipal bill using a fictional address and use this in conjunction with, say, a Somali passport to purchase and activate as many SIM cards as one likes but even that appears not to be necessary.
Mr Zolisa Masiza, regulatory head at MTN, pointed out on Shine2010.co.za in October that foreign visitors for the major 2010 sports event
“will be required to provide their full names, surname, original passport document and residential address in their home country to a RICA officer or agent”
“will have to notify MTN if the card is handed over to someone else, and registration will then happen all over again.”
Furthermore, according to Masiza, who should know, having been a Councillor at the regulator ICASA and in the regulatory division of Telkom as well over the past three years, the
“obligation is on the foreign visitor to destroy their SIM card once they have left the country.”No doubt, he is technically correct, but I don't see the soccer fans complying in droves. Besides, how many municipal bills in Ukrainian will MTN be able to process?
Update (2010-01-03): Just search a bittorrent site or other disreputable source for “ID template” and you'll find everything you need to “roll your own” RICA documentation.