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Zimbabwe Arrests Cabinet Minister’s Son for Using Starlink

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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A Zimbabwe politician’s son has been arrested on charges of illegally possessing a Zimbabwe StarLink terminal. This is due to the non-licenced state of the SpaceX technology in the country. 

Zimbabwe Starlink

Neville Mutsvangwa, who is the son of women’s affairs and community development minister Monica Mutsvangwa, appeared in a Harare court on Friday. He was charged with violating the Postal and Telecommunications Act.

Neville was arrested with two accomplices, Elias Majachani (45) and Simbarashe Tichingana (38). They are also facing charges of offense against the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act. Additionally, they are charged with the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.

The country claims that they have solid proof against Neville and his two accomplices, who have pleaded not guilty. Neville is also accused of operating a Starlink satellite connection without government authorization.

Moreover, they are accused of forming Mumba Money Transfer Services without a license between January 2019 to May 8, 2024. Their actions result in the violation of the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering and Exchange Control Act.

Also read: Starlink is Set to Restrict Roaming in Unlicensed Areas

The prosecutor said: “They advertised on the internet directing clients to their offices in Harare. The accused persons employed a combination of electronic funds transfers and physical cash for their unlawful transactions, leveraging foreign bank accounts to obfuscate their activities.”

Zimbabwe StarLink devices are popular in the country. This is due to the global street market trade that has made them accessible in jurisdictions where they aren’t licensed. 

Seeing this development, Zimbabwe asked SpaceX in April to cut off all terminals accessing its service. Also, the country urged StarLink to present a formal application to operate in its region. It’s observed that in Zimbabwe’s street markets, the terminals sell for between $1,000 and $1,250.

Christopher Mutsvangwa, Neville’s father, is also a Zimbabwean politician: the ruling party’s spokesman. He previously served as an advisor and cabinet minister to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. A bail hearing for his son was set for Monday.

Conclusion 

Starlink warned several African nations in April that its satellite internet will be shut down in areas where it doesn’t have an operating license. 

A Bloomberg News investigation previously revealed how some countries use Elon’s satellites to operate illegally, this includes territories ruled by repressive regimes. 

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Abdullahi Kafayat
Abdullahi Kafayat

Abdullahi Kafayat is an enthusiastic writer interested in the tech world. She's a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University and has a BSc in Chemistry. You can reach her at Kafayatabdullahi17@gmail.com.

Articles: 332

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