Giving a stranger your phone to make a distress call could earn you six months behind bars and a fine of Sh10,000 if it is found that your mobile device has been used to commit a crime.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Friday issued the stern warning, saying every Kenyan is responsible for any use of their mobile number in making calls, sending and receiving text messages as well as any financial transactions.
The regulator says all Kenyans must only use registered SIM cards to transact business as they may be culpable in the event that their number is used in the commission of a crime.
“For every purchase of a SIM card, demand that it be registered promptly and receive proof of registration before starting to use the line since if later found to have been misused, you risk being prosecuted for possessing an unregistered line. You will be convicted and jailed for the same,” CA said in a public notice published in Friday’s dailies.
The communications regulator also cautioned Kenyans against buying SIM cards from hawkers, adding that every buyer must provide a copy of their ID as proof of identity before the new line is registered and activated for use.
The strict guidelines are likely to affect the common sale of SIM cards on the streets at between Sh50 and Sh100 by sales agents who hardly request any form of identity from buyers.
The freestyle sale has continued despite the CA requiring the registration of all SIM cards after purchase.
The sector regulator’s latest warning comes on the back of rising concern over incidents of extortion, killings and kidnappings linked to abuse of mobile phone lines, some of which have been traced to inmates at Kenyan prisons.
In one of the infamous swindling crimes, a convicted criminal forged an ID card belonging to the retired Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), General Jeremiah Kianga, and proceeded to con unsuspecting Kenyans with promises to enrol them in the army.
Several people sent thousands of shillings via mobile money transfer before investigations were launched and the phone number traced to a convict at Kamiti Maximum Prison.
“In case you lose of your SIM card, report to the nearest police station and demand an abstract. Do not use a SIM card that is not registered and in case of any changes, report the same to your SIM card provider,” the CA said.