‘Magic Box’ causing a stir in Botswana
by Reuben Pitse
The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) Botswana Police Service (BPS) the National Broadcasting Board (NBBA) and MultiChoice Botswana appear to be at loggerheads over the issue of the ‘Magic Box’, allegedly a Chinese-made decoder that accesses MultiChoice signals, making it possible for people to view DsTV channels without paying.
To date, over a thousand ‘Magic Boxes’ have been confiscated by the police while three suspects are in custody.
MultiChoice is reportedly said to have called engineers from China to come and assess the ‘Magic Box’ and how it captures their signals.
Sunday Standard investigations reveal that MultiChoice has, since the beginning of this year, been lobbing government to bar the importation and selling of the ‘Magic Box’, which has become a big challenge.
The investigations reveal that the police have approached the DPP to find ways on how they can prosecute those who sell the decoder.
The Serious Crime Squad is said to have been assigned to investigate the matter and last week raided a number of Chinese shops around Gaborone.
Over a thousand ‘Magic Boxes’ are reported to have been confiscated by the police, along with computers.
Our investigations reveal that things came to a head last week when the DPP was approached by police to draft a criminal charge sheet against the three Chinese suspects that were arrested during last week’s raids, only to find that there allegedly is no law that can be used to prosecute.
Last Friday afternoon, the suspects were expected to be arraigned before the Gaborone Village magistrate court but were not as police allegedly failed to find the legal basis to use against the suspects.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa told the Sunday Standard on Friday evening that “a number of Chinese shops that sell the ‘Magic Box’ were indeed raided by the Serious Crime Squad in Broadhurst, Main Mall and the African Mall and six suspects of Chinese origin were arrested.
Mbulawa said investigations are still ongoing.
The General Manager of MultiChoice Botswana, Billy Sekgororwane, said that early this year, his organization lodged a formal complaint with both the police and NBBA over the ‘Magic Box’.
“We have been employing temporary counter measures to block the transmission,” he said. “Assisted by MultiChoice piracy officials, the nerve centre of the piracy operation was raided and all the infringing equipment including decoders, smartcards, computers and laptops were removed, so the pirate operations have been rendered dysfunctional.”
Dr Thulaganyo Mogobe, a board member of the NBBA, confirmed that they did receive a complaint from MultiChoice and would be meeting with other stakeholders to discuss the matter.