An investigation conducted by the Digital Forensic Lab has linked the race-baiting Tracy Zille social media account which has been fanning racial tensions in recent weeks, to an EFF central command team member.
The race-baiting @TracyZille and a number of other social media accounts have been linked to the Search 67 website which generates income through Google AdSense – a feature that is used to monetize websites in exchange for placing adverts on the websites.
Researchers linked the account to Anthony Matumba, an EFF councillor from Limpopo, who is also a member of the party’s 40-member Central Command Team – the party’s biggest decision making body between conferences.
The EFF’s Central Command Team includes prominent Top 6 leaders including Julius Malema as president, Floyd Shivambu as deputy, Marshall Dlamini as secretary-general, Poppy Mailola as deputy, Veronica Mente as chairperson and Omphile Maotwe as treasurer.
Matuma is an additional member of the CCT, like prominent party members including party spokesperson Vuyani Pambo, former spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi.
The Tracy Zille social media account has been on a campaign aimed to outrage by posting tweets which seek to elevate white people above black people.
Some of the tweets from the Tracy Zille account call President Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Nelson Mandela ‘sellouts’’.
Some of the tweets read: “If Whites don’t share land with Blacks today, S.A will soon turn into Zimbabwe because poor Blacks will take the land violently by force. But if Whites negotiate with government and share the Land with Blacks using the law peacefully, the economy wil grow. @TracyZille #tracyzille”
“Blacks make 85% of South African Population and Whites make 15% of the population. But Whites own 85% of the land and Blacks own 15%. Blacks are getting buried on top of each other because of lack of land. Is that not racism? if i talk about it they say Tracy Zille is a racist”.
Blacks put money in White people’s banks including Church money. Banks give that money to Whites as business and house loans using land taken from blacks as insurance. Blacks come to work in those businesses while renting those houses. White economy is Land and Banks #tracyzille
Life of young Black Youth is extremely painful. With S.A White Economy they don’t qualify for House & business loan. They rent nice town houses paying off house loans of Whites. But they behave like they made it in life & everything is fine with the country’s economy #tracyzille
You can go on and say @TracyZille is a racist but the fact remain. You are wearing White people’s body parts (weave) on your head. You are a scam, guys spend money on Evelyn and wake up with Steven. Love your natural African hair.
The Digital Forensic Lab found that Matumba had used the Tracy Zille social media account, along with a number of other social media spam accounts, to apparently promote his websites for financial gain.
IOL contacted Matumba on Friday, and he confirmed that the Search 67 website was registered under his name, but he denied being responsible for the race-baiting Tracy Zille social media account.
“Those websites are registered under my name. If you look, you will see that many people share articles from the website on their profiles. I am not responsible for the Tracy Zille account. I have seen it on my Facebook. It’s just one of those accounts, what can I say about it,” he said.
Matumba said the fact that the Tracy Zille account was consistently sharing his website URL did not mean that he was responsible for it. He said Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina had also shared a link to his website, but argued that this did not mean he was responsible for the mayor’s tweets.
When Matumba was repeatedly asked if he was responsible for the Tracy Zille account, Matumba said he was not, but he did concede it did look suspicious that the account had been sharing so many links to the website in a small space of time.
“It does look suspicious, even myself I even wonder,” he said.
“But last time it was shared by Mzwandile Masina at some point. Sometimes I just look and I see people are sharing my content,” he said.
Matumba, who is a councillor in Limpopo, said he ran the website as a part-time hobby. He also claimed he did not plagiarise news from other websites, but instead, said he wrote the copy himself about news he found interesting.
On his website however, articles are supposedly written by a Katlego Sithole, and not himself as he claimed.
The articles also appear to be sourced from reputable news organisations locally and abroad. .
A story about the Q-Twins, a local music duo, was lifted from the Daily Sun, and another story about the one million graves furore, was lifted from the Pretoria News.
When IOL contacted Matumba again to ask about Katlego Sithole, he did not know who the person was.
“Who is Katlego Sithole?”
When it was explained to him that Katlego Sithole was the author of a number of stories on his website, he claimed he did not know what a byline was.
“What is a byline?” he asked.
When the concept of a byline was explained to Matumba, who had earlier claimed to write the stories himself, he had this to say: “I changed from Abel Mushi, because it was getting a certain guy in trouble. For the safety of the guy, I had to change,” he said.
He tried to further explain: “There was a rumour that… eish can I come back to you, just give me one minute and I will call you back,” he said.
The Digital Forensic Lab had highlighted Abel Mushi as a possible pseudonym that Matumba used to share links for the website from.
He later said he had removed Abel Mushi as an author on his website and replaced him with the fictional ‘Katlego Sithole’ character because he had seen people on Twitter threatening to open a case Abel Mushi for running the website and the Tracy Zille account.
“I saw on Twitter that there was a person who was opening a case against Abel Mushi. They were saying linking Abel Mushi to the website and saying lets get this person arrested, so I decided to remove the name,” he said.
Matumba said people were sharing links to the website in droves, and claimed he did not know that it was illegal to reproduce news from news organizations on his website for financial gain.
“My friends are doing the same thing. I did not know that is not allowed, I can’t go and do illegal things like that,” he said.
Matumba said he was considering shutting the website down.
EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo could not be reached on his cellphone on Friday.
Matumba also said he had not been contacted by the Digital Forensic Lab and was only alerted to the article after investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk tweeted about the investigation into his website.
He said he did not have the legal resources to challenge the Digital Forensic Lab’s claims that he was responsible for the Tracy Zille account as he was just a councillor with no financial resources.