WASHINGTON DC —
Two Zimbabwean journalists based in South Africa have filed a lawsuit against internet website New Zimbabwe.com and the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group for alleging that they are behind a faceless Facebook character, Baba Jukwa.
The amount that they are demanding as damages from the publications has not been disclosed.
The litigation follows a story at the weekend in which the New Zimbabwe.com website published what it claimed were the contents of a hacked email account.
The emails allegedly exposed the two journalists, Mxolisi Ncube and Mkhululi Chimoio, as being behind Baba Jukwa, who amassed thousands of followers on Facebook in the run up to last year’s general election.
Baba Jukwa was largely suspected to be a Zanu PF insider because of the sometimes classified information that the character revealed on the social network and was gleaned by local international news organizations.
The Herald and the Sunday Mail published the story and pictures of Ncube and Chimoio, further stating that they will be extradited from South Africa and tried in Zimbabwe.
New Zimbabwe editor, Gilbert Nyambabvu, when asked for comment, said he wished the two litigants good luck in their bid to sue his publication.
“All I can say is that I wish them luck on their attempt to sue New Zimbabwe.com,” he said.
In the past, several people, including ministers have been named as possible Baba Jukwas.
Herald editor, Caesar Zvayi told Studio 7 that the material that has been released by the hackers implicates the two journalists and the suit would expose the syndicate that they were working with.
Baba Jukwa caused a furore within Zanu PF towards last year’s elections with unconfirmed reports alleging that the party had put a $300,000 bounty on Baba Jukwa’s head.
The first Zanu PF official to react on the alleged expose was Information Minister Jonathan Moyo at the weekend who said in a statement, "While the claim that the anonymous hackers who have unmasked Baba Jukwa worked with unnamed intelligence services should be taken with some grain of salt given that Internet hacking has become an art form even among high school kids, it should be said that there is no unknown on the Internet. Surfing the Internet is no different from driving on any highway.”
“The material that has been released by the hackers implicates the two journalists … What remains to be proved is the syndicate that they were working with,” he said.
One of the alleged Baba Jukwa trolls, Mxolisi Ncube, told Studio 7 they have evidence that proves that they have nothing to do with the Baba Jukwa account.
New Zimbabwe.com quoted the unnamed hackers saying, "We got them because they were stupid enough to put their real mobile phone numbers and genuine email accounts as back-up. They were clumsy.”
Ncube said, “I cannot say much at this point because the case is now with our lawyers. All I can tell you is that this is completely not true.”
The journalists’ lawyer Obert Gutu said the case will expose the real Baba Jukwa.
“Yes, I can confirm that I have been retained as a lawyer for the two. I have been instructed to take stern action against New Zimbabwe.com which is headquartered in West Midlands in England and I have the same instructions to take action against Zimbabwe Newspapers Group.”
He dismissed the evidence that is being proffered as linking the two journalists to Baba Jukwa.