The man behind a South African Twitter account that promotes xenophobic sentiments against Africans has been uncovered.
The account has been linked to a former member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
He is Sifiso Jeffrey Gwala, a former lance corporal with the 121st SA Infantry Battalion in Mtubatuba in coastal KwaZulu-Natal.
He is the invisible hand behind the “anonymous” Twitter account previously known as @uLerato_pillay.
The Twitter account was fingered as sponsoring inciting xenophobic tensions in South Africa.
Consequentially, in reckless opportunism, some South African politicians rode on the xenophobic buzz spurred by Mr Gwala. About 50 people attended a march against foreign nationals in Tshwane on Wednesday (September 23).
The protest was described as one of the resultant effects of some of the sponsored xenophobic narratives.
South African communities and their leaders look for scapegoats for South Africa’s many troubles as the premeditated xenophobic rhetorics gained grounds.
Media reports confirmed that South Africa has a seemingly unrepentant fatal history of violence against foreign nationals, particularly other Africans.
In May 2008, 62 people died as a result of nationwide xenophobic riots that started near Johannesburg, and in April 2015, seven people were killed in similar protests in Durban.
South Africa’s high unemployment rate and lacklustre service delivery are often blamed on the nearly four million foreign nationals staying in South Africa.
There are also unfounded claims that foreign nationals are disproportionately responsible for crime are frequently used to justify these attacks.
In July 30, 2020, communities in Thokoza, south of Johannesburg, forcefully evicted foreign nationals from their homes and burnt their possessions in the street.
A march to “cleanse” Johannesburg of foreign nationals on September 23 has been orchestrated and amplified by #PutSouthAfricansFirst, a movement that coalesced around Gwala’s online persona.
In this setting, Gwala used the @uLerato_pillay account to psyche his more than 60,000 followers against foreign nationals and refugees living in South Africa, usually under the guise of one of several nationalist pro-South African hashtags.