Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Government’s probe into cyber terrorism has begun, with preliminary investigations pointing to three Zimbabweans based outside the country as originators of subversive and inflammatory messages on social media.The inciting messages, sent mostly via WhatsApp, are aimed at destabilising the country with the ultimate goal of effecting illegal regime change. The three terrorist suspects, according to security sources, are Victor Dube (resident in South Africa), Jeff Judah Hosanna (South Africa) and Tapiwa Marimbe (Australia).
The trio, believed to be working with MDC-T officials, has been sending messages containing threats of violence, murder as well as armed and landmine attacks against ordinary Zimbabweans and Government officials.
The messages are meant to intimidate Zimbabweans and cause instability.
The revelations come in the wake of abortive calls by some shadowy and faceless groups calling for the shutting down of the country’s borders beginning yesterday, ostensibly to force Government to lift import controls on certain products from South Africa.
Zimbabweans, however, ignored the messages and went about their business yesterday. Security sources yesterday said Hosanna has been using mobile number +27744621779 to originate and send subversive WhatsApp messages.
He claims to lead an organisation called Smoke that Thunders Brigade which intends to wage war in Zimbabwe to remove the Government. In his video, which The Herald is in possession of, Hosanna has also threatened to kill Zimbabweans.
On the other hand, Dube, using mobile number +27736352897, sent a message threatening Zimbabweans, calling them to stay at home on August 11 or risk being killed. The suspected terrorist, together with his conspirators, threatened to kill a thousand people by planting landmines on various roads in the country and other methods.
Marimbe, who is based in Perth, Australia, is believed to be an accountant who has been using mobile number +61466919413 to create inflammatory messages. He sent a message and a video showing a man with a covered face packing firearms into a bag.
The man threatened to come to Zimbabwe with the firearms to wage war and kill citizens. Asked if he was behind the subversive material and if he was linked to the Smoke that Thunders Brigade, Hosanna responded: “That is very correct. Actually if you don’t mind, if you want an interview, if you want details you can phone me tomorrow (today) by 9 o’clock.”
Contacted for comment Dube first confirmed being the owner of the mobile number but when told that it was a journalist from The Herald, he distanced himself from the messages. “I am not Dube. What does that have to do with The Herald? Yes, I am a Zimbabwean and are you guys desperate for news?”
Told that he has to clear his name with the police, Dube said: “To come where? For what? How am I gonna (sic) come there? I am at work.” Marimbe could not be reached for comment. Efforts are being made to apprehend the trio, using Interpol, an intergovernmental organisation facilitating international police cooperation.
A security source yesterday said: “Should the three wish to clear their names, they are welcome to present themselves to the Zimbabwean police as soon as possible. The long arm of the law will reach out to them even if it means using international police machinery. Interpol is one such agency used to reach out to cross border criminals. We will work with other governments to extradite those who originate terrorist activities taking advantage that they are out of the country.
“Government warns Zimbabweans to desist from communicating with these and other terrorist suspects. Should anyone receive such terrorist messages, they are advised to inform the police and provide details of the person from whom they received such messages. Resending such terrorist messages to any person is aiding and abetting the terrorists. Therefore, those that resend such messages become accomplices of the originators and will be held accountable.”
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe this week warned a coterie of individuals feeding on the Western trough against causing confusion and anarchy in the country as part of the illegal regime change agenda.
He said the West was relentlessly funding opposition functionaries in a bid to effect regime change not only in Zimbabwe but the whole of Africa. As such, Dr Mushohwe said, Government was ready to deal with all social media abusers.
Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda last week also warned malcontents and the country’s detractors against using electronic gadgets to mobilise people to do unlawful activities.
Lt General Sibanda said the army was ready to deal with insurgent groups resorting to cyber warfare. He said because of the proliferation of cyber warfare, the country’s security sector had increased alertness. Western embassies such as the United States, Britain and France have been implicated as sponsors of violent demonstrations by the shadowy groups.