So a guy called Rutendo Matinyarare who resides in South Africa has been making a lot of videos on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube talking about many different things. Sounds like an average thing on social media right? Econet decided to respond though when Matinyarare accused them and their founder of a number serious things.
This is one of those stories that we were probably not going to pick up. Rants on social media happen every time and we can’t be chasing after those. However, Econet responded through their lawyers and suddenly the rant is more than a rant. Here’s the letter from Econet lawyers in full:
Note: We have linked to old articles related to some of the the names and references made
To: Mr Rutendo Benson Matinyarare
And to: Mr Jackson Muzivi
And to: Mr Mutumwa Mawere
And to: Mr Pardon Gambakwe
And to: Gambakwe Media
IN RE: ECONET GROUP OF COMPANIES & OTHERS // MATINYARARE AND OTHERS
1. We act on behalf of the Econet Group of Companies (“Econet”) which include, inter alia, Econet Wireless Zirnbabwe, Econet Wireless (Pty) Ltd, Econet Global (Mauritius) which are collectively “our clients- We are instructed as follows:
2 Econet is a diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephony services, broadband, internet, satellite and fibre optic networks. Econet also has investments beyond the traditional telecoms sector, which include financial services, insurance, e-commerce, renewable energy, education, Coca-Cola bottling, hospitality and payment gateway solutions.
3. Our clients have invested substantial amounts of money in building their branding and good reputation in the market. Our clients have a legally recognised right to protect both their brand and their reputations.
4. It has recently come to our clients attention that:
4.1 On 7 November 2018, a video, entitled “Did Strive Masiyiwa’s ECONET kill Whistle Blower Edward Matambanadzo?” was published and narated by Rutendo Benson Matinyarare, on www.YouTube.com (“the First YouTube video” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMCiXiHGFpU ).
4.2 Also on 7 November 2018 a video interview. entitled “Why Chiyangwa wanted Strive Masiyiwa Arrested” was published by Jackson Muzivi on YouTube (“the Second YouTube video” – https://ysetc.be/52a2Lo3SJncA).
5. Reference to “Strive” and/or “Masiyiwa” is to an Econet Group director and/or executive.
6. Our clients take the contents of the Youtube videos in serious light especially considering that the Videos have been intentionally published by you with the intent to harm our clients. Our clients deny the allegations contained in the YouTube videos and it is contended that the Videos are intentionally designed to defame and cause damage to our clients.
7. In addition, it has become clear that you are part of a group of persons engaged in a deliberate smear campaign using, inter alia, the publication of defamatory statements via YouTube, Twitter, the Internet and by way of the distribution and publication of audio recordings. The universal theme of these actions are directed at defaming our clients and causing them both reputational and financial harm.
8. The YouTube videos are intentionally false, defamatory and injurious. The content and/or innuendo of which includes, inter alia, allegations that:
8.1 Econet, and its executives are responsible for Edward Matambanadzo‘s death and was involved in causing his fatal motor collision by hacking into his vehicle’s “computer box”,
8.2 Econet and its executives are part of a “mafia”, thereby implying that they are a structured secret organization allegedly engaged in illegal and criminal conduct;
8.3 Econet and its executives have not only killed Edward Matambanadzo, but also other people. In addition, that people fear that they will also be killed by Econet and those involved therewith;
8.4 Econet is involved in massive and elaborate evasion of duties and taxes in Zimbabwe;
8.5 Econet, per implication, unlawfully avoids paying taxes or at least improperly sought to reduce the taxes that Econet has to pay;
8.6 Econet made fraudulent misrepresentations and are involved in major fraud and corruption;
8.7 Econet, its directors, its employees and its executives are inherent dishonest and criminal;
8.8 It is implied that Econet Owes $350 million from 2009-2013; and
8.9 The Zimbabwean Minister of Finance improperly intervened, based upon his relationship with one or more of our clients, to suppress a criminal investigation against them.
9. The defamatory statements appear to have been intentionally published to several thousands of persons in Zimbabwe, South Africa and internationally. The publication of the defamatory statements are wrongful and actionable. As a result of your conduct our clients have suffered considerable damages and continue to suffer damages as long as you continue to allow the publication of the defamatory statements, inter alia, by keeping the YouTube videos active.
10. In so far as our clients include trading companies, it is trite in South African Law that such entities are entitled to claim for both general and actual damages suffered caused by defamatory statements injuring their reputation as a business.
11. You reside in South Africa and the defamatory publications were also made in South Africa (as the publication could and have been viewed in South Africa) and therefore the South African Courts have jurisdiction to entertain the anticipated legal action against you Your conduct also adversely affects our clients business activities in South Africa.
12. We have been instructed to demand from you, as we hereby do, that provide on or before 7 January 2019:
12.1 An unqualified and complete retracting of the defamatory statements and the removal of all YouTube Videos or other publications making reference to any of our clients;
12.2 An apology, in writing, for the defamatory and false statements and innuendo published of and concerning our clients ,
12.3 An undertaking that you will cease and desist from:
12.3.1 making any further defamatory statements in relation to or in respect of our clients: and
12.3.2 publishing any further defamatory matter (including innuendo) and/or injurious falsehoods of and concerning our clients.
13. Should you fail to take the steps set out above our clients have instructed us to proceed with a damages claim against you for the amount of R20 000 000,00. In addition, you are called upon, under those circumstances, to provide the following undertaking by no later than 7 January 2019, namely that pending the finalisation of an action to be instituted by our clients before the end of January 2019 that:
13.1 you will remove all YouTube videos and any other publications making reference to any of our clients:
13.2 you will not make any defamatory and/or untrue statements in respect of our clients.
14 This letter is also not exhaustive. Failure to comply with the above requests will regrettably result in our clients taking such further steps against you as they may be advised and which will include an urgent application seeking to interdict your wrongful conduct. You are also advised that an appropriate punitive cost order will be sought against you.