Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE international footballer Khama Billiat is being traumatised after some fraudsters hacked his Facebook and Twitter accounts and demanded he pays them US$10 000 by yesterday or they will release his pictures, and other stuff, to the global media.
The fraudsters have also threatened to use his accounts to insult the Zimbabwe Government, President Mnangagwa and South African leader President Cyril Ramaphosa, giving an impression the diminutive forward was the one sending the toxic messages.
They have been sending a number of threatening messages to Billiat, including describing him as a ‘’f*****g b*****d,’’ and warning they will create ‘’the biggest scandal in South Africa and Zimbabwe,’’ if he does not bow to their demands.
The hackers have left Billiat’s Instagram account functional because they say they had to keep open an avenue for the two parties to keep communicating.
They struck on Saturday.
Warriors’ team manager Wellington Mpandare, who has been counselling the Kaizer Chiefs’ star, said the ordeal has left Billiat badly shaken.
“I have constantly been in touch with him since he alerted me of what happened at the weekend and I can tell you that it has been a terrible few days for him and his family because you don’t want to be targeted by such cyber criminals,” said Mpandare.
“He is a young man in a very big city in a foreign country and you begin to wonder what else such people can try to do if they don’t succeed in their mission to try and con him his hard-earned money.
“It’s a serious case and the good thing is that Khama has sought help, from the people that he trusts, and he wants the world to know that this is what has been happening to him in the past few days.
“He has already made it clear he will not bow to their extortionist demands, but it’s the bigger picture that worries us and that’s what we are trying to deal with.
“Khama is a very important member of our national team, and the last thing we want is for him to be unsettled by people who think they can push him into a corner and try and milk what he has worked hard for.
“We have a very important AFCON qualifier against Congo-Brazzaville very soon, some people might think it’s far away but when you realise we only have February coming and then, boom, we are in March, you will understand that we are very close to that match.
“We are offering Khama as much help as we can and we have been working with the authorities in this country because they have to know what is happening given this is a Zimbabwean citizen, a high-profile sporting ambassador for the country, who is being traumatised like that.”
Mpandare said he believed the storm will come to pass.
‘’We have to hope for the best and, crucially, to provide help and comfort to Khama because he needs those who are close to him to be on his side right now,’’ said Mpandare.
“It’s sad that our players are being targeted in such schemes because, remember, just a few weeks ago, they also hacked the phone of Willard Katsande and they were trying to extort money using his number and other stuff they got in there.
“They even spread false reports that Katsande had been arrested.
“In January, it was the turn of Peter Ndlovu who fell victim to these hackers and Mamelodi Sundowns were even forced to issue a press statement to alert the public of what had happened.’’
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene also fell victims to the hackers.
‘’Coach Pitso Mosimane, Peter Ndlovu & Kennedy Mweene’s phones have all been hacked,’’ Sundowns said in a statement.
‘’Don’t send any money to the scammers.’’
Now, they have targeted Billiat.
‘’You b*****d, listen,’’ they sent a message on his Instagram account on Saturday. ‘’We’ve hacked all your accounts on social media and have all your photos.
‘’We will post these photos to all media and send them . . . we will insult your govt (government) and Zim & SA Presidents through your accounts on social media.
‘’It will be the biggest scandal in SA and Zim.
‘’Just send us the amount, we will (demand from) you and we will leave you alone.
‘’Reply us in two days, b*****d, if you (don’t) reply we will post all (your) scandals.’’
After a day passed without any reaction from Billiat, they came back with their demands.
“A day passed, we will execute after 24 hours if you do not reply. F*****g b*****d. We left your Instagram to communicate with you only and to (make you) believe we can control all your accounts.
‘’We will delete the last 10 photos on your Instagram (which they did). The requested amount is US$10 000, you will send it by Wistren (Western) Union.’’
Billiat is widely believed to be the best paid footballer in the South African Premiership after he joined Kaizer Chiefs as a free agent last year.
The Zimbabwean forward ran out his contract at Mamelodi Sundowns, providing him with the muscle to negotiate on his terms, when Chiefs and other suitors came along asking for his services.
He was expected to move to Europe, or Egypt, but Billiat decided to stay in South Africa where he has been playing his football for the better part of his career.