EDITORIAL : Chief Jose should be a red line

SOMETHING significant happened in France this week in what was a landmark development in the global fight against cyberbullying.

Twenty-eight people were jailed for up to 18 months for the harassment of an influencer in what has been France’s largest cyberbullying case to date.

The judges found the accused guilty of harassing Magali Berdah, one of the most influential social media personalities in France.

A French rapper Booba spearheaded the social media campaign against Berdah, and described the campaign as one that was against “thieving influencers”.

The harassment, the court heard, had “real consequences” to Berdah’s mental health.

Over the years, Berdah has transformed herself as a prominent lifestyle and fashion expert in France and has been marketing other social media stars through her company Shauna Events.

The accused, who are aged between 20 and 49, received jail terms ranging from four to 18 months, some of which were suspended.

“My life was destroyed for two years because of this,” said Berdah. “Finally, I’ve been recognised as a victim.”

According to her lawyers, this was significant because it showed that the online mob now know there will be consequences for their actions.

We really need something like this in Zimbabwe where similar online mobs have now turned themselves into experts in making sure that they relentlessly stalk and destroy the lives of others.

The case of businessman, Tazvi Mhaka, who is also known as Chief Jose, and his wife, is an example of how these social media destroyers have crossed the line in their shameless attacks on individuals.

This mob took a family picture, which was taken at the early stages of Chief Jose’s marriage, and photoshopped it to project an image which suggested the businessman was having an affair with Wicknell Chivayo’s wife.

They simply replaced the face of Chief Jose’s wife with the face of Chivayo’s wife, Sonja.

Tatelicious Karigambe has been a big player in this mess.

“This was a picture taken of me and my wife 19 years ago before I even started growing a beard and Wicknell’s wife was probably still in high school by then,” said Chief Jose.

“While I typically refrain from dignifying such malicious rumours with a response, the gravity of these accusations demands clarification for the sake of my family, friends, business associates, and social media followers.”

Our authorities should take the hardline stance we have seen in France to deal with such reckless attacks on individuals who need protection against this shameless mob.

In the United Kingdom last year, a father, whose child took her own life, said cyber bulling should be made a specific crime to protect children.

Mia Janin died in March 2021 at the age of 14.

 In March last year, a 23-year-old Chinese woman was hounded to death for sharing a photograph on social media celebrating her graduate school admission with her bedridden grandfather.

Her photograph was shared with false, and often insulting, captions as he became the target of relentless taunting.

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