'Lerato Pillay doesn’t exist. Sifiso Gwala is the one actually spewing hate'
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.
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.
In my latest for @DFRLab the man behind the xenophobic @ulerato_pillay Twitter account is revealed as a 32 year old former SANDF member: Sifiso Jeffrey Gwala.— Ad Homonym (@jean_leroux) September 23, 2020
Gwala used the account to foment violence against foreign nationals disguised as "nationalism".https://t.co/suROOD0DZq
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.
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