THE syndicate behind the “Baba Jukwa” Facebook page apparently panicked yesterday and was busy removing some sensational posts that can potentially lead to criminal charges from the account. Hackers at the weekend identified two South Africa-based Zimbabwean journalists – Mkhululi Chimoio and Mxolisi Ncube – as the people administering the page that is believed to be the face of a syndicate involving several people who supplied Chimoio and Ncube with material, most of it contrived to cast Zanu-PF in bad light in a bid to prop up the fortunes of the opposition MDC-T.
The Jukwa expose, a throwback to the Julian Assange WikiLeaks saga, that sent a chill down the spines of several politicians, apparently brought an early winter for some given the tonnes of confidential data released by the hackers which exposes some renegade politicians who tried to use the hitherto faceless character to settle scores.
While the hackers took control of Baba Jukwa’s e-mail accounts before locking out the pair of Chimoio and Ncube, the duo were still in control of their Facebook page and yesterday made five posts on various issues one of which tried to deny that Baba Jukwa had indeed been unmasked despite irrefutable evidence gathered by the hackers linking the pair to the site.
Information Communication Technology experts, however, said the clean-up of the Facebook page timeline was akin to closing the stable doors when the horses have already bolted as the material gathered, including emails, was enough to make the two liable for prosecution.
Harare lawyer Norman Mugiya of Mupindu and Mugiya law chambers said the pair could be charged with “publishing information likely to cause despondency.”
“This is an issue of national interest that is likely to cause panic and despondency,” he said, “another charge will be that of criminal defamation but the hurdle would be the process of extradition here. They have to get through the extradition process to have them otherwise that will be their escape route.”
Another lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange said the Jukwa duo were likely to face both civil and criminal charges.
“The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act prohibits any person from sending statements that are misleading resulting in someone suffering prejudice,” he said.
“These guys claimed that they were Zanu-PF members and Politburo members knowing that they were false claims resulting in alarm and despondency.”
Mr Samukange said both Zanu-PF and other individuals whose civil rights had been infringed by the publication of those false stories could now make formal police reports.
Our news crew was, yesterday, combing the page looking for some of the more damaging, ludicrous and potentially criminal posts but could not find them as they were apparently deleted.
These included, among other things, the bald claims that President Mugabe was planning on poisoning thousands of young Zimbabweans who were to attend his annual Children’s Party ahead of the 2014 21st February Movement celebrations, and those with private cellphone numbers of public officials.
“Baba Jukwa” at one point posted a cell number that he claimed belonged to President Mugabe, a development Presidential Spokesperson Cde George Charamba scoffed at.
Posting of private cell numbers could lead to criminal charges under telecommunications laws, as the posts encouraged people to harass the people in question.
“Baba Jukwa” has also on several occasions claimed President Mugabe’s death and/or being in a coma at a Singapore medical facility; all lies that were designed to foment instability in the country.
Further, “Baba Jukwa” made several posts in which he accused people of murder, assault, rape, theft and fraud, among other things, which could fall foul of criminal defamation laws.
While “Baba Jukwa” has lost control of the email account to the unidentified hackers, he/they retain(s) control of the Facebook page, and indications last night were that the account was being cleaned up to remove the damaging posts.
The claims related to certain individuals dying “soon” – including Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo – have not come to pass, something that led people to start questioning “Baba Jukwa’s” credibility more than a year ago.