Philani Ronnie Gumede (36) was sentenced in the Durban Regional Court in connection with a voice message he sent on WhatsApp that incited violence.
Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, spokesperson for the national prosecution authority, says Gumede was fined R10 000 or three years in prison, half of which was suspended for five years. He was earlier found guilty on charges of breaching the Cybercrime Act.
“Gumede was a member of Operation Dudula and in March 2022 he sent out a voice message on WhatsApp which informed other members that there was going to be ‘thunder and storm in the Durban city centre’. He said they were going to drive all foreigners out of Durban. The plan was to enter businesses owned by foreigners, remove all contents and use chains to close the premises.”
The message spread on several WhatsApp groups and eventually reached the police.
“Gumede was called in and he confirmed that he sent the message with his mobile phone to all Operation Dudula members. His mobile phone was confiscated and he was arrested.”
Public Prosecutor Nomalungelo Ntshangase told the court that the voicemail led to xenophobic attacks on foreigners and in some cases their property was damaged and looted.
“The NPA welcomes the successful conclusion of the case. We appreciate the work done by the public prosecutors and police. Spreading such messages amounts to taking the law into one’s own hands. Such lawlessness cannot be tolerated.”