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Durban Man From Operation Dudula Convicted Under Cybercrimes Act

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A significant ruling in the Durban regional court has resulted in Philani Ronnie Gumede, a 36-year-old member of Operation Dudula, facing a hefty penalty of R10,000, or the alternative of a three-year imprisonment term. This judgement is per Cybercrimes Act's Section 14, which condemns the distribution of provocative messages that incite property damage or violence.

In a revealing turning point in March 2022, Gumede used a WhatsApp voice note to message his fellow Operation Dudula members, promising an impending "thunder and storm" in the Durban Central Business District (CBD). His ominous metaphor outlined the expulsion of all foreign nationals from Durban, incorporating the intrusion of their businesses, extraction of contents, and the use of chains to lock the properties down.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) noted that this damaging voice note circulated across numerous WhatsApp groups before it came to the attention of law enforcement. Upon being summoned, Gumede confirmed his association with this provocative note to all Operation Dudula members, leading to his eventual arrest.

According to regional court prosecutor Nomalungelo Ntshangase, the message incited xenophobic attacks resulting in the looting and damage of some properties owned by foreign nationals. This landmark case marks the first conviction of this kind in the Durban area.

The NPA emphasized that the distribution of such inciting messages, which essentially amounts to taking the law into one's own hands, will not be tolerated by the courts.

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