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Kenya mall attack: questions over unregistered SIM cards

October 11, 2013 • East Africa, Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

The debate over deactivating or suspending unregistered SIM cards in Kenya has again come under the spotlight with four major mobile service operators claiming that they have complied with regulations set forth by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK),  a claim dissmissed by the regulatory body. Additionally, global media reports have brought into question whether or not unregistered SIM cards were being used by perpetrators of the Westgate Mall attack.

Director General of CCK, Francis Wangusi (image: CCK)

Director General of CCK, Francis Wangusi (Image source: CCK)

“We are putting sustained pressure on the four mobile companies to switch off unregistered Sims and if they don’t, we will go to the last resort of suspending their licenses,” said CCK director general Francis Wangusi.

During the course of the week, Safaricom’s Bob Collymore, Michael Ghossein (Orange) Maddhur Taneya (yU) and Airtel’s Shivan Bhargava were questioned by CID detectives over the alleged violation of SIM registration.

The issue of unregistered SIM cards in Kenya gained prominance recently with news reports suggesing that the attackers behind the recent deadly Westgate Mall attack might have been using unregistered SIM cards.

“We have arrested and prosecuted a number of vendors who were selling these SIM cards and we summoned the CEOs of these firms to explain what they have done to stop the crime,” said Kenya’s Director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Ndegwa Muhoro.

According to The Washington Post, “Police investigating the terror attack lack information on the people who bought the SIM cards and that information would have assisted with their investigations in to the attack.”

Wangusi could not confirm if the mall attackers did in fact make use of unregistered SIM cards. “We were not officially alerted that the mall attackers used unregistered Sims. We also heard that from the media,” he said.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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