Using a pseudo facebook account in the name Theah Rivers, a one Jose has been trying to extort money from a member of the LGBTI community; he was arrested by the Police on 29th August and has been charged with blackmail and impersonation. The 24 year old is a resident of Bweyogerere in Kira Municipality.
Jose was also running another facebook account, Nanyinni Lwo and he used these to threaten LGBTI individuals with the possibility of outing them to their families and the media.
How the Story Unfolded
A few days after the Police raid at Venom, Jose, using the Nanyinni Lwo account contacted his victim through facebook. He informed the latter that he would expose him to the media and his family if he did not comply with his demands. He also sent threatening messages assuring him that he (the blackmailer) had pictures of his victim at different LGBTI community events as well as confessions from people he had allegedly been sexually engaged with.
In one of the screen shots obtained by Kuchu Times, Jose contacts the notorious tabloid Red Pepper and offers to give them information about his victim. The tabloid urges him to share the said information; he then sends the screen shots of this conversation to his victim as proof of how serious he was about outing him.
To stop him from going ahead with this wicked plan, Jose instructed his victim to deposit SHS 500,000 in less than 48hours of providing the Africell number on which he was to put the money. The number has been identified as +256 791 316 742 and is registered to one Sekitoreko Brian.
He didn’t stop at threatening the victim but also went ahead to send his boss messages insinuating he (the victim) was involved in questionable behavior. On the fateful day, Jose instructed his victim to come to Mabirizi complex where he would pick up his money. He also said he would send someone to bring him a CD containing all the evidence; he had, to prove that he was not just bluffing.
However, on arrival, the Police netted him and the said CD turned out to be blank. Upon being interviewed, Jose said he was merely revenging since his victim had ‘stolen’ his lover. He also revealed that the two are casual friends in real life although the victim was not aware he was the one blackmailing him.
Interview obtained from Jose by Hrapf lawyers
Lawyer: Do you know that what you were doing was unlawful regardless of your hidden intentions and do you know that blackmail is a crime according to Ugandan laws ?
Blackmailer: I didn’t know this madam, I thought I was just playing a game.
Lawyer: Do you know according to the computer misuse act you are not allowed to use internet, phones and other gadgets to torture any citizen psychologically? Do you know even stalking someone using technology is a crime according this Act?
Blackmailer: I have just come to know about this from the police station.
Lawyer: Do you know that what you and your crew are doing is affecting the entire LGBTI community in Uganda-creating fake facebook accounts to torture your colleagues?
Blackmailer: To be open to you madam, I am the person who opened up that “Nanyinni Lwo” account and I created it intentionally, after my mission I was going to delete it.
Lawyer: When did you open up this account?
Blackmailer: I opened up this account in August this year.
Lawyer: Who are your crew members?
Blackmailer: I have been doing this alone
This is not the first blackmail case being reported from the Ugandan LGBTI community, there have been a number of similar cases reported with the number hiking after the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2013.Also, just a couple of weeks ago, a number of gay men from Bwaise were enticed to a deserted place where they were tortured. They too met their torturers on facebook.
We call upon the Ugandan Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community to be vigilant and conscious about the people they deal with on social media. Such cases should always be reported to the relevant authorities or any organization that helps the gender and sexual minorities community with legal aid.
This incident is a reminder that we are still vulnerable and it is also our duty to protect ourselves from the ever prying vultures that await the perfect opportunity to pounce.