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'Lerato Pillay doesn’t exist. Sifiso Gwala is the one actually spewing hate'

23 September 2020 1:15 PM
Tags:
SANDF
Racism
Twitter
Xenophobia
Xenophobic
bigotry
Fake twitter account
Lester Kiewit
The Midday Report on CapeTalk
Lerato Pillay
uLerato_pillay
Digital Forensic Research Lab
DFR Lab
Jean le Roux
xenophobic hashtags
#PutSouthAfricansFirst
cyber sleuth
Sifiso Jeffrey Gwala
dog whistle

The xenophobic Indian South African woman is actually Sifiso Gwala (32), a disgraced former SANDF soldier, says Jean le Roux

A xenophobic Twitter account, claiming to be that of an Indian South African woman, belongs to 32-year-old Sifiso Jeffrey Gwala, a disgraced former SANDF soldier.

An investigation by Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) revealed that Gwala is behind the fake Lerato Pillay account.

Gwala, impersonating the fictitious Pillay when tweeting racist and xenophobic posts, is at the centre of a network of xenophobic hashtags and inciting statements, according to Jean le Roux, a disinformation researcher at DFR Lab.

Lester Kiewit interviewed Le Roux, the cyber sleuth who uncovered the bigoted bogus account.

… it [xenophobic rhetoric coming from the Lerato Pillay account] gradually escalated alongside the #PutSouthAfricansFirst hashtag…

Jean le Roux, disinformation researcher - Digital Forensic Research Lab

The content it tweets incites these [xenophobic] events… The comments in reply to posts – there were about 2500 mentions of ‘kill’ and ‘hang them’ and ‘shoot them’, and so on…

Jean le Roux, disinformation researcher - Digital Forensic Research Lab

The Lerato Pillay account is acting as a dog whistle… making claims against foreign nationals, asking them to be shot and killed…

Jean le Roux, disinformation researcher - Digital Forensic Research Lab

The person behind the account is Sifiso Jeffrey Gwala… He was one of 34 soldiers that were dismissed by the SANDF [for absconding from their duties in the DRC] …

Jean le Roux, disinformation researcher - Digital Forensic Research Lab

To have a faceless, anonymous account acting as a beacon for xenophobia… it’s something we can’t allow… There has to be someone standing account… My hope is that by revealing who he is, there’ll be repercussions...

Jean le Roux, disinformation researcher - Digital Forensic Research Lab

… it gets picked up by junk news sites, and it feeds back to the same groups – a xenophobic feedback loop…

Jean le Roux, disinformation researcher - Digital Forensic Research Lab

Listen to the interview in the audio below.


23 September 2020 1:15 PM
Tags:
SANDF
Racism
Twitter
Xenophobia
Xenophobic
bigotry
Fake twitter account
Lester Kiewit
The Midday Report on CapeTalk
Lerato Pillay
uLerato_pillay
Digital Forensic Research Lab
DFR Lab
Jean le Roux
xenophobic hashtags
#PutSouthAfricansFirst
cyber sleuth
Sifiso Jeffrey Gwala
dog whistle

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