Zimbabwe Arrests Cabinet Minister’s Son for Using StarLink Services

(Bloomberg) -- A Zimbabwe politician’s son was arrested on charges of illegally possessing a StarLink terminal, a sign of the risks in countries where the SpaceX technology isn’t licensed.

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Neville Mutsvangwa, the son of of women’s affairs and community development minister Monica Mutsvangwa, appeared in a Harare court on Friday on charges of violating the postal and telecommunications act, the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe said in a social media post.

StarLink devices are popular in Zimbabwe as part of a global street market trade that has made them available even in jurisdictions where they aren’t licensed. Zimbabwe asked SpaceX in April to cut off all terminals accessing its service and urged StarLink to submit a formal application to operate in the country.

On street markets in Zimbabwe, the terminals sell for between $1,000 and $1,250.

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

Read more: StarLink Halts Internet Service to Zimbabwe Pending Licensing

Elon Musk’s company warned several African nations in April that its satellite internet will be shut down in area where it doesn’t have an operating license. A Bloomberg News investigation previously revealed the extent to which Musk’s satellites are being used in countries where it’s illegal to operate, including in territories ruled by repressive regimes.

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