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By Staff Writer
Controversial public relations firm Bell Pottinger may have gone back to London with its proverbial tail between its legs following a national outcry over its work to sow racial division in South Africa, but its campaign is being continued.
In a particularly nasty editorial on a new website devoted to punting the White Monopoly Capital myth, respected financial media editor Peter Bruce has been painted as a philandering husband after being stalked and photographed.
Bruce’s wife, former wife and a female associate have also been profiled in the article, with telephone numbers and addresses included in the editorial. Bruce has indicated he intends to sue the Gupta family for crimen injuria in connection with the story.
A particularly sinister feature of the www.wmcleaks.com piece, designed to cause personal hurt, is the inclusion of photographs that have evidently taken with a long lens of Bruce and an associate.
Other journalists who have been ‘smeared’ by this website include investigative journalist Sam Sole, of amaBhungane, who has been exposing the depth and breadth of the Zupta empire – including through analysis of the #GuptaLeaks emails. Former finance minister Trevor Manuel and presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa also appear on the fake news site.
The fake news website does not publicly disclose who owns and runs it, or who has produced the content. However, journalists at Daily Maverick’s Scorpio investigative unit have picked up on a trail of clues and have revealed the identity of the Gupta spin doctor: former Gupta-owned Sahara Computers employee Saurabh Aggarwal.
Says Daily Maverick: “ The Gupta spinners of the dark arts have consistently targeted anyone outside of the warm embrace of the family… Some of the accounts created are so obviously fake they would be funny if it weren’t for the tragedy of State Capture and the damage it has wreaked on South Africa’s body politic.”
The independent media website cites implausible names like Bheka Reddy, Dikotsi Voster, Anesu Nel or Bophelo Visser as obvious clues that fake news merchants are at play.
“The logical conclusion is that whoever set up these Twitter accounts must have run a generic list of South African names through some sort of programme to come up with these ridiculous sockpuppet accounts,” says Daily Maverick.
Among Scorpio’s findings is that:
- Aggarwal joined the Gupta-owned company in 2008. At the time listed he his address as 3, Saxonwold Drive, Saxonwold. “Yup, right next door to the mother ship at No 5.”;
- Analysis of metadata reveals that a person called Saurabh was involved in drafting a key piece of content.
- “The document was created by a user identified only as “Saurabh”, and was drafted on 18 June 2017 at 21h57 +05:30. The +05:30 time stamp in this case indicates that the computer used to draft the Word document was set up to operate in a time zone that was +05:30 to Greenwhich Mean Time, and only a single country in the world uses that particular time stamp: India.”
About Saurabh Aggarwal
The Daily Maverick says Saurabh Aggarwal:
- Was an IT Manager at Sahara from 2008 to December 2010 joined the Gupta-owned The New Age, until his departure in February 2014 to join ANN7;
- Left ANN7 in February 2015 and joined Kaseya IT, an internationally-hosted IT Services provider. He is currently stationed in their offices in New Delhi, India.
For more on the #GuptaLeaks see:
Exclusive video footage obtained by News24 shows how current and former cricket stars such as Makhaya Ntini, AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith were paraded around Saharanpur. Read more.
More on Bell Pottinger and Victoria Geoghegan:
It has taken only a few years for Geoghegan and her associates to help bring South Africa to its knees – all in the name of personal hubris. Bell Pottinger suggested an initial monthly fee of £100 000 (roughly R1.5m), the #Guptaleaks reveal. There is no way to put it nicely: Victoria Geoghegan represents all that is rotten with the public relations industry and public companies fuelled by short-term shareholder greed. It is hard to imagine a more evil operation than Bell Pottinger. Read more.
It is ironic that a white monopoly capital firm – the London-headquartered Bell Pottinger– was hired by a Gupta entity to orchestrate a campaign to create the monster of white monopoly capital in South Africa. There have been suspicions and allegations that Bell Pottinger put together a devious strategy to defend the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma by painting them as victims of greedy white racists. Teams of journalists sifting through a massive bank of leaked emails linked to the involvement of the Gupta family in South African government and business have now uncovered evidence that Bell Pottinger also had a hand in propaganda put out by the ANC’s MK and Youth League divisions. Helping to conduct the campaign was Nazeem Howa, a former journalist who moved on to work for the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments. Read more.
President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma is a key figure in the #Zupta campaign to siphon funds out of state coffers. This is apparent as the investigative teams at amaBhungane and Scorpiomake sense of correspondence contained in the most sensational information leak South Africa has possibly ever seen. The emails, dubbed #GuptaLeaks, contain evidence that prove allegations that President Jacob Zuma has allowed an immigrant family to pull the levers of political power and raid state coffers. Zuma’s son has been working directly with the Gupta family, using the Zuma name to further Gupta interests and living the life of a rich person as the benefits flow back to him. International money-laundering and tax evasion are in the mix as are hints that President Zuma has been making moves to live elsewhere. Read more.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.