Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla engaged the most in celebratory posts during July unrest, SAHRC hears

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Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla.
Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla.
Deaan Vivier
  • A research associate at Digital Forensic Research Lab told the commission hearings into the July unrest that Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla was prolific during the unrest.
  • Zuma-Sambudla engaged in several celebratory unrest posts and also shared information of old protests from the year before.  
  • The commission heard other posts, which drove traffic, were the "jail without trial"ones from the Twitter account of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

A research associate at the Digital Forensic Research Lab told the SA Human Rights Commission on Wednesday the social media account of former president Jacob Zuma's daughter engaged in the most celebratory posts during the July unrest.

Jean le Roux, who is also a qualified lawyer, told the commission hearing into the unrest, which caused destruction and led to widespread looting in July last year, that Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla was prolific during the unrest.

"She was one of the accounts that was most engaging in the celebratory parts of unrest. She would take posts of buildings burning and have a tweet below it saying: 'Amandla, we see you'.

"She did this quite prolifically throughout the period of the unrest. In some cases, she was also the one that took truck protests from the year before and attached that same statement to those tweets, giving the impression that these are protests happening in support of her father and his incarceration."

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Le Roux said other posts which drove traffic were the "jail without trial" posts from the Twitter account of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.

There was almost a drive from that specific account over a period of weeks to have that 'jail without trial' phrase take root.

He added the Digital Forensic Research Lab was tasked to look at open-source social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, but could not find any direct incitement to violence posts.

"We had a look at some of the narratives as they started unfolding. We specifically looked whether there were concrete examples on the site, was there a call specifically to go to this place and conduct arson or loot a building.

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"We couldn't find anything on the open-source social media platforms that indicated to people in organising to go to this specific place, loot this warehouse, focus on this area and commit arson on that particular building.

"I got no doubt that it would have been organised and orchestrated on darker social media platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram and Zello."

Le Roux told the commission most of the posts were reactive.

There were people using the unrest for their own political objectives. There were a lot of the 'we see you' posts going around. They were used as a way of celebrating what was happening in KwaZulu-Natal.

"In some cases, even old and misleading footage was used from totally unrelated protests from years ago to further those same kind of narratives. A lot of this was celebratory, it was used in a way that celebrated the unrest and celebrated the violence," he said.

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