Rica* is the act that makes it compulsory for everyone in South Africa to register their cellphone number. It is one of the government’s key crime prevention initiatives towards making South Africa a better place. Well, so declares MTN in a prominent notice on its website. But Noseweek has for months been observing MTN agents in Cape Town encouraging hundreds of people to contravene the RICA law in what seems to be a detemined move to ramp up its subscriber base.
The story starts at Cape Town’s Refugee Reception Centre where, every morning, scores of asylum seekers queue to present their applications to the Department of Home Affairs. Also there each morning since mid-2013 have been a clutch of MTN agents ready to welcome the refugees with loads of free, ready-RICA-ed MTN SIM Cards – no questions asked, no forms to fill in.