#DataMustFall: Simphiwe Dana is Taking Data Providers to Court

‘Data should be a basic human right’

South Africa has one of the highest data costs in the world.

The conversation is always just below the surface, but this week it reached an all-time high as musician and performer Simphiwe Dana is threatening to take data providers to court.

A report by Research ICT Africa found that South Africa’s data prices are more expensive than all the other major African economies. Phone-tracker company Tariffic conducted a study that found SA’s data is 134% more expensive compared to other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).


#DataMustFall is the civic action against our country’s wild data costs that make access to information, especially for working-class communities, difficult.

‘A resistance campaign to call on Government and cellular providers to do better’

You can feel the frustration from people across the country questioning why data (an infinite resource that’s been described as a basic human right throughout the world) is so inaccessible with a population that has over 18-million active smartphone users.

These questions broiled over into what we now know as #DataMustFall, a resistance campaign spearheaded by media man Tbo Touch to call on Government and cellular providers to do better.

#DataMustFall goes to Parliament

The initiative went from social media all the way to Parliament, where Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services agreed that the exploitation of South African mobile-users needs to end.

Significant uproar from the #DataMustFall hashtag – including a #SocialMediaBlackout hashtag that implored South Africans to boycott data usage – means there may be a shift soon regarding how much data costs.

‘Data should be a basic human right’

Singer and activist Simphiwe Dana ran up a data bill of more than R60 000 in just two months. Simphiwe claims her mobile provider didn’t notify her that her limit had been reached and so continued charging the musician. Simphiwe managed to rectify the matter, but the singer decided enough is enough.

According to TIMESLive, Simphiwe reportedly asked advocate Dali Mpofu to represent her – and countless others – in a class-action lawsuit against data providers in SA.

‘I asked him [Dali] how it works,’ Simphiwe said. ‘He said that if we have enough people (which I found out is 40) with similar complaints to mine, we can go ahead with it. I am looking for those people now. I have asked them to DM me their cases and we will fight it together. I am taking it slow, but Dali seems keen to get involved and I don’t mind if he and the EFF take up the fight.’

As an activist, Simphiwe stated she’s tired of the anti-poor and classist dynamics worsened by data prices.

‘Data should be a basic human right. It is elitist, criminal and anti-poor. It is time that something is done. It is unjustifiable.’

Catch Simphiwe lead a 13-piece all-female band for her performance at the Cape Town Jazz Festival at the end of March.

Read more Real Talk 

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