Police barred from accessing citizen’s EcoCash details

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By Mary Taruvinga

HIGH Court judge, Benjamin Chikowero has given a Harare citizen an interim relief barring the police from accessing her EcoCash details.

Sheila Francis Jarvis had approached the High Court with an urgent chamber application seeking to bar Home Affairs minister and the police from accessing her EcoCash details as Econet’s subscriber.

Her decision was compelled by the recent attempt by the police to search and seize Econet Wireless’ financial documents.

Her lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara confirmed the development.

“An interim order was granted by consent,” he said.

In her application, Jarvis argued that searching and seizing of Econet’s documents would be invasion of privacy of its subscribers and may cause difficulties for her to transact for household goods and other basic needs.

Econet has since challenged the move by the police and also been granted interim relief by the High Court which barred the police last week.

Police recently requested Econet, which has more than 11 million subscribers, to hand over details of its mobile money transactions and subscribers because authorities suspect its network was used to conduct money-laundering.

This prompted the company to file an urgent High Court application seeking the suspension of the search warrant.

Econet said the warrant should be suspended while the court determined its legality at a full hearing in future.

Econet argued the search and seizure warrant was unlawful and constituted a violation of the applicant’s right to privacy and also the right of privacy of the applicant’s subscribers.

The blue-chip company has been at loggerheads with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of late.

The government has already suspended some of Econet’s EcoCash bulk transactions agent lines, saying they were fuelling the black market trade for foreign currency.

EcoCash is under Cassava SmarTech Zimbabwe Limited after Econet Wireless unbundled its financial technology wing into a separate entity in 2018.

Cited as respondents in Jarvis’s application are Home Affairs minister, ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Detective Inspector and Officer-in-Charge CID Asset Forfeiture Unit Northern Unit, Mkhululi Nyoni respectively.