How cheap technology is helping turn South Africans into private eyes and spies

In light of an article by the Sunday Times, unpacking the usefulness of spying products, 702's John Robbie spoke to veteran private investigator Christian Botha about how surveillance technology has become more accessible to the public.

According to Botha, the cheapness of products, such as hidden cameras, cover listening devices and trackers , has given South Africans the power to become their own private investigators.

There is so much cheaper equipment that you can by now, and people are doing it themselves and aren't coming to private investigators anymore.

Corporate espionage cases are quite common

Botha told 702's John Robbie that he regularly comes across cases of corporate espionage.

There are a lot of cases where people are signed up with a contractual clause of restraint of trade . They steal ideas from a company; resign and set up a similar company, using the company’s client data base. We get a lot of calls from that, where people are trying to protect their company assets. The most important part of the company, is their information – if it gets in the wrong hands, you could loses a lot of business.

But isn't it against the law?

Botha says that these practices, which are often an invasion of privacy, are unlawful; however, there are some instances when they are justified.

He says that in the case of protecting someone’s life, evidence of extra-marital affairs in divorce proceedings, as proof against criminal conduct, it may be defensible. Botha says that the technology has made surveillance particularly easy in matrimonial cases.

According to Botha, the equipment varies, from big quality brands to devices purchased from cheap Chinese stores. He says that there are devices the size of a match box, that can function as a listening device and a GPS tracker for as little as R280.

Listen to the full conversation on The John Robbie Show:


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