[29 June 2014] Here is some simple advice on lodging a criminal complaint with SAPS if you are the victim of a cybercrime. Depending on which station you are reporting to you may have wildly-contrasting experiences – remember that patience and politeness are the most likely strategies to advance your own interests.

Suggested process

  1. Draft as short and as simple an affidavit as possible which sets out why you believe a criminal act has taken place (you may want to obtain legal assistance to do this). The affidavit should:
    • Set out the identity and contact details of the complainant;
    • If available, set out the identity and contact details of the alleged perpetrator;
    • Set out the facts which led to the complaint being lodged and refer to or incorporate any available evidence such as IP addresses and log files;
    • Set out the sections of the criminal law or ECT Act which have been breached. The full text of Chapter 13 of the ECT Act which deals with cybercrime is available here.
    • Make a clear statement that you wish the matter to be investigated further and to be kept informed of process.
  1. Lodge this affidavit with your local police station. Be patient and polite at all times. Due to their workload and priorities the desk officer may not want to receive your complaint: be firmly insistent and ask to escalate the matter internally.
  1. Ensure that you obtain a reference or CAS number. This is critical in allowing you to follow the matter up.
  1. According to internal SAPS procedure, your complaint should be referred to a duty detective within 24 hours. If possible obtain the name and contact details of this detective, either when lodging the complaint or when following up at a later time.
  1. Request that the complaint be escalated to the SAPS cybercrime division as soon as possible. Typically the duty detective should recognise that the he or she is not able to investigate the matter and refer it to the cybercrime division.
  1. You will need to accept that it is up to you to follow-up and create pressure for the matter to be handled professionally – it is not going to be sufficient to go through the motions of lodging a complaint without actively pursuing the matter.
  1. If, despite your best efforts, you are not able to obtain the kind of progress you are looking for, you may choose to consult with a lawyer.