Case against EFF councillor allegedly behind controversial @TracyZille account postponed
The case against EFF councillor Anthony Matumba — who is alleged to be behind a fake Twitter account used to spread disparaging, racist and harassing says towards black women — has been postponed to next month.
The case against Matumba had been brought before the equality court in Louis Trichardt by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after it received complaints from a member of the public about says made by someone using the alias @TracyZille on Twitter.
“The case was postponed to August after the court received an application from the Media Monitoring Company for them to be admitted as amicus curiae [friend of the court],” SAHRC spokesperson Victor Mavhidula told TimesLIVE on Thursday.
“They were admitted and therefore need to receive all documents of the case and need to prepare themselves,” said Mavhidula.
The court postponed the case to August 16. The matter had also been set down for the August 19 and 28.
The @TracyZille account reportedly emerged in June 2020 and had more than 30,000 followers when it was brought to the attention of the SAHRC. The account caused a storm after it posted tweets about the difference between white and black cultures. Other tweets pretended to offer “advice” from white people to other races.
“From a closer inspection, and after an expose in the media, it was reported the Tracy Zille account was, in fact, run by Anthony Matumba, a councillor from the Makhado municipality,” the SAHRC said.
“It was further reported that Mr Matumba was generating an income from making these disparaging and inflammatory says online through companies he owned and registered to which social media users were directed.”
The Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), which had pointed the finger at Matumba last year, said he has registered multiple websites in his name, which he monetised using Google’s AdSense.
“To drive traffic to these sites and increase the ad revenue they generated, several Twitter accounts spammed links to the websites, mostly in reply to prominent Twitter personalities,” DFRLab said.
It said it had collected 104 tweets from @TracyZille between June 29 and July 4 last year. A total of 61 tweets were linked to the websites whatsappgroup.co.za, search67.com and jobsfinder.co.za.
As the matter finally makes its way to court, the SAHRC said it wants the court to declare says made by Matumba as harassment based on gender and race, and for him to pay damages.
“The SAHRC is of the view that no individual may use the hurtful history of this country to leverage an income for him or herself.
“The SAHRC condemns any form of action which deliberately contradicts our mandate of reconciliation and nation building, and is confident the court will send a strong message to the faceless individuals on social media who attempt to abuse these platforms in stark contradiction of the aims of the Equality Act.”