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EXPOSED: Barry who? The Zambian man behind SA’s ‘Black Twitter CIC’

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The person behind the self-proclaimed “Black Twitter CIC” and parody account, Man’s Not Barry Roux (@AdvBarryRoux), well known for Sunday exposés and a massive Twitter following, has been identified as a Zambian national.

News24 can reveal that Csho “Shepard” Chilala, 27, a Zambian blogger from the small town of Monze, southwest of Lusaka, is the person behind the 500 000-follower parody account.

Chilala was identified through several of his social media accounts, including his Instagram, Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook profiles. He was also identified using videos uploaded to Twitter’s Periscope platform years before he became famous.

In one of these videos, he accidentally flips the camera into selfie mode, revealing his face, while another video contains enough conversation that his voice can be matched to an interview conducted by @AdvBarryRoux in January 2018.

Chilala’s exposés, which his followers called “dropping files”, often contained sensitive and confidential information, which led to speculation that the @AdvBarryRoux account was operated, either by Crime Intelligence operatives, disgruntled ANC members or advisors to the national police commissioner.

Attempts to unmask @AdvBarryRoux in December 2017 successfully revealed his pictures, but the links were sporadic and easily denied by the @AdvBarryRoux account at the time. In December 2017, Chilala explained to his followers that the account was operated by at least four people, none of whom created the original accounts.

Yet this contradicted @AdvBarryRoux’s statements during the radio interview, in which he revealed the same person was in control of all the accounts since their creation.

Fake it till you make it

Chilala hails from the small town of Monze, 180km south-west of Lusaka. He gained notoriety in March 2014 during coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial when his Twitter account, @CshoChilala, was featured in an IOL article covering social media’s reaction to the paralympian’s murder trial.

Ironically, the tweet that shoved him into the spotlight was appropriated from another Twitter user, who tweeted the lines used by @CshoChilala some two days before. During the investigation it became clear that this was standard practice for Chilala. He frequently copied content to publish it under his own name on Twitter and his various blogs.

It was during this time in March 2014 that Chilala changed his Twitter handle from @cshochilala to @MrBarryRoux, and later to @barry_roux. Although the timeline of these changes are unclear, a simple Twitter search reveals that these three accounts are one and the same.

@MrBarryRoux change to @Barry_Roux
@CshoChilala was changed to @Barry_Roux

In the examples given, users can be seen quoting the old Twitter handle, while Twitter mapped the reply to the @barry_roux account.

This happened because earlier versions of Twitter required users to include the handle of the other user when responding to tweets. However, because Twitter maps user interactions using an internal user ID and not the Twitter handle, it is possible to find tweets that identify both the old and the new accounts.

The @barry_roux account was eventually suspended in April 2017 and, after Chilala attempted in vain to have the suspension lifted, he eventually resorted to using the @AdvBarryRoux account permanently. A screengrab of him warning his followers against another parody account can be seen here.

BarryRoux AdvBarryRoux Twitter

Fakery

Chilala’s “anonymous” @AdvBarryRoux account’s Sunday Twitter exposés, which his followers have colloquially referred to as “dropping files”, have attracted significant attention and traction on social media. Chilala posts several tweets in a thread, usually accompanied by several screenshots as proof.

Chilala claimed in a radio interview in January 2018 that he verified information before he shared it, but this didn’t stop him from sharing fake news and defamatory articles before.

For example, in November 2018, Chilala shared a Facebook post claiming to expose racist policies within the Democratic Alliance, as shared on a member’s Facebook page. A News24 investigation revealed the post originated from a bogus account created in 2016, using a fake profile picture, just days before the municipal elections at the time. This was a clear false flag disinformation campaign aimed at the DA.

Even after this was pointed out to @AdvBarryRoux, Chilala maintained that he “tweeted what he liked”, displaying a reckless disregard for the amount of influence he wields. This is also at odds with his claims that he never makes allegations without proof.

In another example, a video retweeted by @AdvBarryRoux claimed a hostel in Boksburg had been raided, finding millions of rands in cash and resulting in the arrest of 22 cash-in-transit thieves and 40 farm murder suspects. The video was fake, and prompted the police to issue a statement urging social media users to “to refrain from irresponsible behaviour” online.

Chilala’s @AdvBarryRoux account also implicated former Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya as part of Radovan Krejcir’s underworld crime network.  

In Mandy Weiner’s book Ministry of Crime, Sibiya denied these claims and, despite telling his followers that evidence of Sibiya’s involvement with Krejcir would be revealed during the Sam Issa murder trial, these claims are yet to be proven.

Others have also been attacked in his tweets, notably Eyewitness News’ Katie Katapodis, who was labelled a “racist dictator” amid claims that her management of the EWN newsroom was steeped in racism.

Because these tweets originate from an anonymous account, it leaves the people at the receiving end of his tweets with no recourse. There is no Press Ombud or news editor to contact should the information be false

Tracking him down

Chilala’s wielding of social media also led to his unmasking. In addition to his infamous Twitter account, Chilala operates a Facebook account under the alias “Vusi Mkhize”, an Instagram account, and several Google Plus accounts.

The investigation starts with his Instagram account, @AdvBarryRoux. As at November 2018, the account was still publicly accessible, but it was later made private.

On April 9, 2017, this Instagram account posted a screenshot of @AdvBarryRoux’s phone home screen. In the upper right-hand corner, a truncated image of his phone’s camera gallery can be seen, with what appears to be part of a selfie.

AdvBarryRoux Instagram

Using some creative reverse image searching, a corresponding pic was found for this image, reflecting details, such as the earphone cables, the Puma logo on his shirt and his long nails.

Pic Comparison

Running reverse image searches using the photo, several other photos of the same man was revealed across various platforms. Most notably among these was a Twitter account, @realcshochilala. The account featured several photos of Chilala in a bright pink shirt. The account also frequently retweeted the @barry_roux account.

RealCsho Profile
Csho Tweets

The account biography also identified him as hailing from Monze, alongside a WordPress blog in his name which contained several pictures of the same man. It is important to note that most of the posts on this blog predate his rise to fame, meaning it is unlikely someone would have tried to impersonate him.

The last post on Chilala’s blog was published on May 1, 2014 and centred around the Pistorius trial. Similar to the tweet that brought him fame, the post on his blog was in fact copied from this article published in the UK-based Daily Mirror.

Blog Post
Mirror Article

The post was signed off with a call to follow @MrBarryRoux on Twitter – the same account earlier linked to Chilala and the current @AdvBarryRoux account.

@MrBarryRoux Blog

Google Plus

Chilala also operated several Google Plus accounts using his own name. One of these featured a profile picture of Chilala alongside a posts linked to another Blogspot page (cshochilala.blogspot.com) in his name. It also revealed two email addresses used by Chilala.

Links to same blogspot site was posted by a Facebook account linked to @AdvBarryRoux.

Csho Gplus

Again, much of the content from the blog is plagiarised. For example, one article “authored” by Chilala, which explained why Pistorius may have been innocent, was in fact copied from a BizNews article published a week earlier.

The blog contained a link to his Blogger profile, which provided additional information about Chilala.

Blogger profile

Facebook

Searching for Csho Chilala on Facebook identified an account under the name Vusi Mkhize. The Vusi Mkhize account is notable because the person operating the @AdvBarryRoux account told followers at various times that he was a law student at the University of Pretoria.

The URL on the Vusi Mkhize account home page identified that the username used to enter the account was none other than “OfficialCshoChillala”, and it appeared that Chilala renamed his account to Vusi Mkhize.

Vusi OfficialCsho

The account frequently shares tweets from the @AdvBarryRoux account. Tellingly, it also duplicated tweets that were made by the@AdvBarryRoux account. In this example, both the original tweet, the copied tweet by @AdvBarryRoux, and the Facebook post can be seen.

Tweet Taken.
Tweet Taken2

If any doubts exist that the accounts are linked, posts made simultaneously on both Twitter and Facebook clearly establish a link between the Vusi Mkhize Facebook account and the @AdvBarryRoux Twitter account.

Tweets to Barry

But the Vusi Mkhize account also shared content linking back to Csho Chilala. For example, on two separate occasions in 2014, the Vusi Mkhize Facebook account posted links to the same Blogspot blog that was earlier linked to the Csho Chilala Google Plus account.

Vusi - Blogspot

The Blog post published by Chilala on September 14, 2014 was, once again, appropriated from another website. The original article was published on thelawthinker.com. While the lawthinker.com website has been discontinued, a link to the article can still be found online, such as this one tweeted by EWN’s Barry Bateman: 

The Facebook page for Vusi Mkhize also provides proof that the person behind it and the @AdvBarryRoux account is Zambian. On September 8, 2016, it addressed a Facebook post to ” fellow Zambians”, which was signed off as Csho Chilala.

 Vusi Zambia

The Vusi Mkhize account also attended the Zambian elections during August 2016, posting about it over several weeks. This was during the same time that a Periscope account uploaded videos identifying Chilala, as will be discussed later in the investigation. The same #ZambiaDecides hashtag was used on these videos as well.

Zambia Tweets

Searching for posts made by the accounts, we also found posts looking for an iPhone in Zambia or Lusaka around March 2018.

Lusaka Iphone

Radio and Video

In January 2018, @AdvBarryRoux was interviewed by Nolutando Duma on her show, Black Twitter Unleashed. Chilala tweeted about the upcoming interview in the lead up.

Interview Tweet

The full interview can be heard HERE.

During the interview, Chilala confirmed that he created the account at the time of the Oscar Pistorius trial, claiming it was “just for fun”. He also admitted that he got his information from outside sources, but insisted that he always asked for proof before he published.

He confirmed that he created the original @barry_roux account, and started using @AdvBarryRoux account after the first one was suspended. This contradicted claims made late in December 2017 when Chilala told his followers the account was no longer operated by the original person.

The voice heard during the interview matched the voice uploaded to Twitter’s Periscope platform – a video service that allows users to take and upload videos.

Chilala’s original account, @cshochilala, uploaded three videos to the platform before it was changed to @barry_roux. The account can be found HERE.

In the first of these videos, Chilala can be heard and the voice and even the laugh matched that of the person interviewed earlier as @AdvBarryRoux.

In another video, Chilala accidentally revealed his face during the recording. Uploaded under the #ZambiaDecides hashtag, the video shows Chilala recording the ground until about 18 seconds into the video, when he accidentally flips the camera into selfie mode.

Making friends

Questions regarding the links between his account and Csho Chilala was sent to @AdvBarryRoux, but he refused to answer.

He first took to Twitter, claiming News24 was “taking chances” by asking him questions. This prompted some users to share their own evidence of links between the @CshoChilala and @AdvBarryRoux accounts.

The “advovo” later responded in an email to News24, using the pseudonym “Tsebanang Khama”. 

“With pleasure I allow you to go ahead and do your job. All this crap you sent to me has nothing to do with me and please feel free to publish anything you wish to about @AdvBarryRoux in future.”

“How I get or verify information about corrupt and dangerous criminals like your friend Sibiya is not to bother you.”

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