POLICE in partnership with Save the Children is working towards connecting its database with the Interpol to track paedophiles and other child abusers and molesters to combat cases of child online abuse.

This emerged during a Cyber Security indaba held in Bulawayo on Thursday, where it was revealed that cases of child online abuse such as sexual grooming and cyber-bullying, among others, were on the rise.

The conference was held under the theme Cyber Security: Our shared responsibility.

Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) acting Staff Officer Superintendent Francis Mutema said police have made efforts towards tackling cases of online child abuse.

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Mutema cited a partnership with Save the Children to connect to theInterpol’s International Child Exploitation database to assist in tracking child abusers.

“This database will allow Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) to upload images and videos, obtain information on identified victims and sexual offenders thus be able to identify and safeguard more children and apprehend more offenders, more importantly prevent further distribution of child sexual exploitation material and deal more effectively with travelling child sex offenders,” Mutema said.

“The ZRP has made significant strides and efforts in response to online child abuse. Our efforts encompass both proactive and reactive initiatives. These include conducting awareness campaigns in schools and communities targeting both women and children.”

Meanwhile, Information and Communication Technologies, Postal and Courier Services deputy minister Jerifan Muswere and Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe director-general Gift Kallisto Machengete also warned online businesses and online users against cyber-attacks.

“Going forward, my ministry will co-ordinate and spearhead the cyber security aspects such as promulgating and enforcing the cyber laws, with the relevant government security bodies.

“Emerging technologies have to be used taking into consideration security fundamentals to ensure that all information remains secure in all respects. So, it is necessary to be aware of it and anticipate, predict, and prepare against cyber-attacks,” Muswere said.

Machengete added: “As we are grappling with serious cyber security issues in the form of cyber-attacks, data and privacy breaches, and the proliferation of hate speech and fake news situation is yet to get worse as more emerging technologies are adopted in the country.

“My message is that we must never lose sight of the benefits of Information and Communications Technology Services (ICTs) present as they are a tool for economic development and we have recognised that the development of ICT infrastructure is vital to our growth and development.”