‘Virtually impossible’: Car tracking data difficult to tamper with, Senzo Meyiwa trial hears | The Citizen

'Virtually impossible': Car tracking data difficult to tamper with, Senzo Meyiwa trial hears | The Citizen

The trial-within-a-trial continued in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

An expert has confirmed the authenticity of the vehicle tracking data which recorded the car movements made by the police while escorting Senzo Meyiwa murder-accused Bongani Ntanzi.

The state called a new witness to testify about an automatic vehicle locator (AVL) report in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

A trial-within-a-trial is taking place to determine the admissibility of confession statements, pointing out and warning statements by the accused in the main trial.

AVL system supplied to Saps

Michael Du Preez told the court he is the chief operations officer (COO) of Ctrack, which provided the AVL system to the South African Police Service (Saps).

Du Preez, who has testified for 14 years in a various courts, testified that the company had been awarded a tender to install the tracking devices in the Saps’ vehicle fleet.

“This hardware is equipped with a GPS. There is also a GSM [global system for mobile communication] modem that has a sim card and this device is then connected to the wiring of the Saps vehicle. The AVL system allows us to know whether the vehicle is switched on or off, is it travelling, is it standing still, at which speed is it travelling, its location and date,” he said.

The witness explained the data from the system is transmitted via the GSM network to a centralised environment managed by the State Information Technology Agency (Sita).

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He said the information, which is stored in a database, can only be accessed by registered users.

“Such registered users will only have access to vehicles that is registered to their cost centre. [In other words], a specific police station will only have access to that police station’s vehicle and certain divisions within that police station will have access to the vehicles. Not everybody has access to each other’s vehicles,” the witness continued.

“Authorised users can gain access to historical data of a vehicle for a defined period hence users being available to compile data like we have in court data. That’s the way the system works.”

Du Preez indicated that an AVL report was compiled on a specific vehicle registration number and dates.

He also said the GPS location would not be accurate in the absence of data from four satellites orbiting the Earth communicating with the unit receiver in the AVL system.

Watch the trial below:

Unlikely tampering

Du Preez pointed out that it was highly unlikely for the system to be tampered with since the device is fitted “out of sight” without the driver knowing where it is installed.

“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it’s unlikely that an individual would just fiddle with it.”

He revealed that it was difficult to tamper with the data as well as it was encrypted and protected by firewalls.

“Without a very intimate knowledge of the system, it is virtually impossible,” Du Preez said, adding that the data was stored in a “definite sequence”.

READ MORE: ‘Accused was bought Wimpy’: Police’s movements takes centre stage in Senzo Meyiwa trial

“If someone tries to alter the data, the chronological order of the data would appear out of sequence and out of logical reason which will then reflect as tampered with,” he continued.

The expert highlighted that there were requirements such as receiving authorisation for a police officer to access the data.

Du Preez further said it can be determined who accessed the data.

“There is also record of every transaction so every time a person logs in, they need to authenticate themselves via a username and password – and that is locked in a log file. It would, therefore, be easy to say who logged on when and see what they were doing,” the Ctrack COO said.

Ntanzi and his co-accused – Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Mthobisi Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Fisokuhle Ntuli – are on trial for Meyiwa’s murder, which took place on 26 October 2014.

The suspects have pleaded not guilty.

Source: https://www.citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/courts/senzo-meyiwa-trial-car-tracking-data-difficult-to-tamper-with/