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Prison yet to move on mobile money fraud

Chimwemwe Shaba

In the face of concern from the public over fraud cases through mobile phones that infiltrate prison walls, the Malawi Prison Service (MPS) has said processes to procure security gadgets to install in its major prisons across the country to counter the malpractice are still ongoing.

In an interview, MPS spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said they floated bids to identify suppliers of the gadgets and that the procurement process is drawing towards conclusion.

In August last year, a Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) report submitted to Parliament indicated that 90 percent of mobile fraud cases emanate from prisons.

Shaba said in the interim they have intensified checks, where major prisons are subjected to intensive surveillance every fortnight.

He said previously, they used to retrieve 60 cellphones per search but the number of recoveries has gone down to below 10, which to him is a pointer to success.

“We are fast-tracking the procurement of security gadgets for search operations such as body and door scanners. We believe that this will enhance the efficiency of our search operations. You know some of the things we fail to retrieve due to fatigue and also the search is prone to human error, so these gadgets will improve our work. The procurement process is underway and we believe that maximum prisons will be supplied with these gadgets,” he said.

This year alone, the service has interdicted six and fired two of its officers for aiding inmates to have mobile phones inside the prison walls.

This also comes at a time when Malawi Police Service has also expressed lack of financial and human resource in dealing with cyber related crimes such as mobile money fraud.

Head of the Digital Forensics and Cyber- Crimes Unit at National Police Headquarters, Gladwell Kubwalo said in an interview that there are very few forensic science experts in the service, which affects their investigations and prosecution.

Kubwalo then appealed to institutions of higher learning to consider introducing forensic sciences as a programme in their syllabus if the status quo is to change.

“High on the list of those committing cybercrimes are inmates in our prisons and some of the knowledgeable out there who take advantage of the existing knowledge gaps to dupe those with no knowledge on the systems, our institutions of higher learning better incorporate digital forensic sciences in their syllabus,” he said.

In May this year, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority indicated that Malawi is losing approximately K120 million monthly to mobile money fraud.

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