People who find materials of their communications recorded and disseminated on social media platforms such as WhatsApp without their knowledge may lay charges against the perpetrators, communication regulators confirmed.
Chief Executive Officer of the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) Festus Mbandeka told New Era that recording people without their consent and disseminating such materials constitutes criminal offence under the country’s laws.
Lately, several embarrassing and or slanderous voice and video recordings, including telephonic conversations meant to be private, have been circulating on social media, mostly on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Because of these recordings, the private lives of many people became points of national – or even international – discussions, slander and insults. This is deemed a source of great emotional trauma for those subjected to this treatment and their families.
Video recordings of sexual nature involving Namibian women have become internet and social media hits in recent years.
A married woman, who was allegedly recorded by her younger lover while she was naked, had a video of her sexual activities gone viral earlier this year.
Human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe had to write letters to the alleged boyfriend, after he had accused his regular girlfriend of having leaked the intimate video out of anger and jealousy.
In recent weeks, a 12-minute recording of a telephone voice conversation related to the issue of Ondonga chieftaincy dominated WhatsApp platforms.
In that recording, female members of the royal family were depicted as cheap and easy to have sex with. Screenshots of private text conversations have also become rife in Namibia – including a recent one in which a young woman discussed how much money she and her group of friends charge sexual clients.
Mbandeka, the CRAN CEO, said aggrieved parties can approach the Namibian police and press formal charges.
“After investigations, in terms of the relevant law and procedures the police will thereafter forward the matter to the Office of the Prosecutor General for consideration and prosecution,” he said.
According to the Communications Act (Act No. 8 of 2009) recording and circulation of private conversation may be deemed a criminal offence if the nature of the circulated information is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent and if the intention of the initiator is to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person.
According to section 117 (1) (c) of the Communications Act (Act No. 8 of 2009), a crime is committed when “any person who, by means of a telecommunications devices knowingly, makes, creates, or solicits or initiates the transmission of any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person.”
Mbandeka said so far CRAN is unaware of any cases opened with other authorities in this regard as the police and the Office of the Prosecutor-General are independent institutions, in nature and functions.
It is also believed that the majority of Namibians are unaware of the protection provided in law for them when such incidents occur.