THE new Regulation of Interception of Communications Act came into effect yesterday in a bid to fight crime syndicates, druglords and serial killers.
We welcome any operation that will bring criminals to justice. For too long our lives, property and, most importantly, the country's reputation have been held hostage by criminals who prey on us with impunity.
Our democratic Constitution with its emphasis on human rights has drawn criminals from all over the world to use this country as drop-off zone.
Cellphone interception has worked in the past to put criminals behind bars. Leigh Mathews' killer was apprehended when police traced calls to a particular cellphone.
Many others have been undone for sending offensive SMSes to their targets.
We do acknowledge a tiny frisson of concern about the act's potentially harmful effect. There is an Orwellian whiff of the Big Brother syndrome that makes us anxious about individual privacy.
We are concerned about the possibility that the security forces and state might overstep and use the act as a cudgel against defenseless citizens.
There are suspicious rumours about the Jacob Zuma and former National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi cases that have not been satisfactorily explained to the public. Too often the security apparatus seems to abrogate to itself the right to hunt, capture and execute its enemies.
There needs to be strong mechanisms to ensure that that does not happen in future.