How brutal social media war failed to solve ongoing battle between Tafadzwa Biggz Mbofana and his (former) friends
Zimbabwe Digital News
The 25 things that you missed from the brutal social media war, and on-going news coverage of Zimbabwean businessman Tafadzwa Biggz Mbofana, and the victims who have gone public of about their business affairs with him.
Firstly there is nothing new to report in this matter – as virtually all the dirty linen has already been hung out to dry – and most of the statements have been exchanged between all the parties – and are public information at this stage.
1. Leading the coverage is Zimbabwe’s Zimpapers tabloid – The H-Metro
In H-Metro Zimbabwean businessman based in South Africa – Tafadzwa Biggz Mbofana – is on the front pages of the tabloid – making the headlines on allegations of duping his friends by soliciting for money to start his business.
This week he appeared in widely circulated reports as having broken his silence – and responded to the allegations swirling around him.
AKA Berzell Mbofana of Ruffkurts Vodka, he told the tabloid that the allegations against him had seriously affected his business.
He said that some of his contacts had expressed reservations in dealing with him further – and added that the allegations that the victims were throwing into the public domain – sought to portray him as a usurper of sorts having stolen a business idea of a colleague, and as a serial fraudster, according to reportage in the H-Metro.
2. Marco Machona, President of TAD (The African Democrats)
In respect of the allegation of Mbofana accused of stealing a business concept from TAD President Marcho Machona: Biggz said: “Let me begin by stating that if a crime had been committed my colleague Mr Machona should have approached the courts rather than the media,” said Mbofana in H-Metro.
“It is a matter of fact that my business is primarily into beverage manufacturing which is distinct from retailing of clothes as done by Mr Machona.
“You will also do well to note that my business is duly registered in South Africa. Apart from the fact that my company is spelt differently Mr Machona has no trademark over the name Ruffcuts or any other similar sounding name,” said Mbofana.
3. Personal Relationships
Mbofana confirmed that he had been in affairs with some of the victims. He told H-Metro that he was owing his ex-girlfriends some money – saying these amounts were not loaned to the business, or for the business but were amounts that lovers lent to each other for different reasons, telling H-Metro that some of the victims were inflating the figures for the newspapers.
4. Naming the victims
“Let me first concede that I indeed was once romantically involved with XXX and XXX at different times for that matter. I must however state that while I owe both ladies some money my debt to XXX stands at R3000,” said Mbofana.
“My debt to XXX in deed is R9000. My debt to XXX as far as our business contract is concerned is ZAR 4 600. This debt unlike the personal debts with my ex-girlfriends is owed by the company.
Some of the victims later said that they were unhappy about having been named in the H-Metro article, as the act of naming people in a personal matter had affected their current relationships with their new partners.
The victims said that fear of exposing their names in public and being seen to be fighting over debts on socials media (pa jekerere re Facebook) had forced them not to participate in the public tug of war with Mbofana)
“We signed a non-disclosure agreement with Tamicom which they breached,” said Mbofana in H-Metro.
6 Paying back the money
Biggz admitted that he was indeed in debted to some of the victims – and said that his lawyers were working on paying back the people where debt could be proved.
“Those ladies I am owing will be contacted by my attorney so we make payment plan and we clear the air so as the Tamicom guys since we have made this matter legal now,” Mbofana told H-Metro.
7. Verbal agreements between Rudo Chidwala, and Mbofana (he said, she said… and the position of the reported news in H-Metro)
H-Metro reported that – for Rudo Zvobgo Chidwala – Mbofana said they had a verbal agreement stating that they were going to share the profit and loss for a clothing project in which they were business partners.
“Rudo was only interested in the profits and not the loss hence her claims that I owe her that much. It’s a well-known fact that our clothing business did flop as at that time we a number of other competitors did rise.
“To make it clear enough, we did close down that business only to be surprised she had to pop up with claims after seven years as if we did not have that conversation way back when that business failed.
In her response to the H-Metro article Chidwala said that Mbofana wrote a complete lie with false information. She said that Mbofana’s clothing line was a success from 2013 -2017 and that her loan was a contracted agreement of which the loan was $1000 with an interest of $400 within 2 months.
“Tafadzwa is lying to the newspaper. He breached the contract of failure to pay my amount due. We are tired of his lies and ill behaviour. All we victims want is our money back whether that be in the form of monthly payments or so on. But he must just payn and not peddle lies,” she said.
8. Aggrieved should go to court
“I would advise all the aggrieved to approach the court of law should they not be satisfied with my responses. This will give room for all the evidence to be produced and handled by the appropriate authorities and that also other claims being brought forward against me with no evidence will be filed for defamation of character,” said Mbofana.
In excepts of conversations between Mbofana and some of the victims, the businessman reportedly said that the shows had been lost, that those who wanted to talk to him should text him only otherwise he would block them and that the victims should stop harassing him and his lawyer was now dealing with the matter
8. High profile people
Rudo Zvobgo Chidwala is based in France and Marco Machona is a 2018 presidential candidate went on to lead 15 victims of Mbofana in a live Facebook page where they threatened the latter with unspecified action if he fails to return their money by end of July 2020.
9. Unspecified action
The group of the alleged victims has since increased to 17 with some threatening to confront Mbofana at his home if they happen to find it in Cape Town. An address of where he is reported to be
Mbofana stands accused (at least on social media) by at least eleven people who say that he owes them money in various forms. There are unconfirmed reports that the list could be as big as 17.
The circumstances of the business relationships in all of the eleven claimants are all different in the origin and nature of the business – the borrowing(s) and promises of pay back(s).
11. Different narratives
Each has their own story of how they met with Biggz – of what transpired and led to the dispute and claim.
What is not in dispute is the extreme anger, bitterness conflict and break-down of the relationship on all sides of the dispute.
This has spilled over into a very dirty war on social media (not that there is a clean war on social media in the first place).
11. List(s) circulating on social media
The list that has been circulated and is freely available on all media houses that are carrying this story:
Victim C – R100 000
Victim N – R14 000
Victim Ly & D – R25 000
Victim R – R11 872
Victim M – R9000
Victim L -R7800
Victim A -R2500
Victim Ru – R5000
Victim L1 – R600
Victim L2 (deceased) – R2000
Victim R – R3400
TOTAL = R183 172
All have agreed on legal action if Mbofana fails to pay them back their dues.
XXX and XXX they said it was R25 000 that they were owed not R4900 that Mbofana told to H-Metro.
Another victim XXX said Tafadzwa, “… is owing me R7800 not R300…” that he told H-Metro.
R102 000 victim 1
R14 000 victim 2
R10 000 victim 3
R5000 victims 4
Victim 5 R2000
(Disclaimer) Zimbabwe Digital News does not vouch or claim any authenticity of the figures except that the victims and Mbofana himself are the custodians of the truth in this matter.
12. The face of the victims
Rudo Zvobgo Chidwala is a Zimbabwean businesswoman who lives in Paris – having emigrated about three years ago. She knew Mbofana when she was living and working in Cape Town before – and as an active social media person – she is the face of the current daily campaign and acting in public on behalf of the victims.
She is the voice of the victims.
She is the one who took the matter on high profile in the social media, and approached and got coverage of the plight of the victims in H-Metro.
13: Rudo Chidwala leading the social media onslaught
Chidwala has taken the matter right through all of the mass following Zimbabwean news sites – including H-Metro where she spoke to Aaron Nyamayaro – and Simba Chikanza of ZimEye – right through to the carefree masses of Mvenge Mvenge-Ezomgido, and Zimbabweans in Cape Town facebook and community news groups who have all had a front seat to the unfolding dispute.
Said Chidwala: “As victims they have been left no choice but to pursue legal action as Mbofana has shown that he has no intention of repaying any victims at all and has been heard of laughing and making fun of the fact that he will never pay a cent to any victims.
If it wasn’t for the pressure that we have put onto him, his mother and family and the fact that there is a massive following on all the media in this, he would not have made the H-Metro statement. We have had to drag him kicking and screaming onto the public forum, otherwise he was not going to do it,” she said.
For his part Mbofana responded that he was not going to risk a social media war as he was severely out-numbered – and he was not going to win the war of words in a (social media) stadium where aggrieved people were screaming at him.
14. The fight for justice
The fight for justice for the victims has increasingly turned into full scale war on social media with daily shock revelations and demands for money – to counter threats and daily appeals for Biggz to return the money that he is accused of owing.
15. Death of new angles
In terms of news and media coverage, and in terms of social media coverage, it is difficult to find a new angle to the story. All that needs to have been exposed about Biggz, including his underwear have been hung out to dry.
This is a classic case of hanging out ones dirty laundry to dry – and social media being what it is – no secrets are safe there.
Most of what the victims have said on social media are actionable defamation – but then there are not limits to what an angry person can say or is capable of doing in the heat of the moment and in the name of aggravation and pursuit of justice away from the corridors of the courts.
There are many angles and aspects that are unfolding and quickly folding – in this matter in terms of the use or ab(use) of social media in this matter. Many of which will remain unfolding for as long as the matter remains unresolved.
16. Will he pay back the money?
Biggz Mbofana is saying that he will pay back the money to all the victims. All that the victims need to do is to get in touch with his lawyer.
The victims are however saying that Biggz does not the intention to pay back the money and if he had the intetion, he would have released a proper payment plan. They say that he does not have a lawyer, the money to hire a lawyer or indeed the will to pay back the money tho those who are saying he is indebted to.
17. What if he does not reveal a payment plan
Chidwala says that all that the eleven want is justice, failing which they are prepared to take this matter to its brutal end – if that’s what it means to get their money back. The repeat and report of unspecified actions have been traded.
18. What needs to be done
From where we are, the flood of social media information that has been traded by both sides in this war – brutal and clearly dragging the name of Zimbabweans in Cape Town in the mud.
It is a reputation that is important to keep – and it is important for all the victims to get justice – but at the same time get the justice in an open and fair manner without resorting to the vagaries and brutality od cyber warfare.
Could this justice be achieved without the current public animosity that is playing out in the social media? Yes it is possible.
19: Rights to a fair legal process
All the victims have a right to a fair process, and all the victims have a right to be heard, but at the same time those who wish to fight the matter in privacy need to have their privacy respected.
Also how about just hiring a good debt collection company or just good lawyer to do the debt collection – if it is proved that there is a standing debt.
The lawyer needs to record the statements and collect the evidence of the claims, and file claims on behalf of the victims.
Biggs himself will then have a chance to defend himself or state his side of the story through his own lawyers if he has got them.
So that the evidence that the victims bring forth – can be tested in an open and fair legal process that suits both sides.
20. Power, or lack of it by unregulated social media tactics
If the amount of pressure that Rudo and her colleagues were to be measured in any unit, it is a massive following through likes, airtime on Zim-Eye, H-Metro, ZiFM, Mvenge Mvenge and others – and if that following were to transform into a solution – then this matter would have been solved months ago.
21. Counter tactics
21. On the contrary Biggz himself has gradually regrouped his own ammunition in defence – if measuring the interview with H-Metro is anything to go by.
He has waged an equally vicious back-campaign which has at times thrown Rudo and her colleagues onto the backfoot.
He dismissed Chidwala’s appointment as the TAD representative in Europe as proof that this was a well-orchestrated political campaign that was designed to earn political points for TAD and Chidwala.
Chidwala herself dismissed the claim of political point scoring as nonsense. Chidwala is deputy secretary general of TAD.
22. Will justice be served?
The victims should get a good lawyer on their side and institute claims against Mbofana. QEqually Mbofana has the right to defend himself again claims that were binding, if he has the evidence to do so.
23. Media flashback: How Zimbabwe Digital News reported the news previously
Heavyweights, businesspeople, prominent people, and ordinary people in the Zimbabweans in Cape Town community gathered in Goodwood this week to witness the launch of arguably the first Zimbabwean-inspired vodka – Ruffkurt Vodka.
24: What Julius Shamu said at the time
Commenting on the 2017 events, businessman Julius Shamu said: “Congratulations Tafadzwa Biggz Mbofana on the succesful launch of your own brand, Ruffkurt Vodka. I have admired how you have become mature, focused and more business savy. More blessings on your business. Well done and keep it up. The sky is not even the limit.”
25. Where are the friends that we reported in at the launch of Ruffkurt?
Our appeal as a newspaper to Friends of Biggs where are you? Time to intevene and fix the dispute.
Others who attended the launch of Ruffkurt Vodka in 2017 included Biancah Dhliwayo, Charles Mandaza, Mandaza Rufaro, James Ruzani Maxwell, Newton Ruzani, Bright Chimutashu, Linar Makuyana, MissBev Dhlix, Corey Nyamutenha, Uncle Russell Baba Todd, Prince Sithole Hkd, Sekerani Lessah, Clive Chitsitsi, Alex Munava, Brian Chidzomba, Tatu Anotida, Tyron Magwagwa, Sharon Makamura, Bright Chiyamuro, Morgan Stitch and Ras Reggie and others.
Chisale, Chidzomba and Chisara, the rest of the Ruffkurt team which included Simbarashe Hundu, Linah Makuyana, Millicent Mpofu and Brandon Mbofana. Does it ring true for Biggz with the saying that: when times are down, friends are few?
Only time will tell.
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