South Africa’s Twitter celebs sponsor R1.4m Gupta ‘bounty hunt’

ajay gupta reward magda wierzycka twitter

South Africa’s elite policing unit, the Hawks, are currently searching the country for fugitive Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh “Tony” Gupta and Duduzane Zuma.

Following the fall of Jacob Zuma from the presidency, a number of Gupta associates have been arrested by police. Ajay Gupta is wanted in connection with the Estina Dairy Farm project, but the Hawks just can’t seem to find him.

“Suspect Ajay Gupta is evading the law, we have begun to hunt him down. He can run but he can’t hide,” tweeted South Africa’s minister of police Fikile Mbalula early Saturday.

Naturally, anything that “Mr Fearfokkol” tweets becomes viral. More than 2000 likes, 900 tweets and 700 comments later, Ajay Gupta was in everyone’s predictive text memory.

A R500 000 reward (R100 000 each) was initially on offer for those with information that leads to the arrest of the four aforementioned men, and includes photos of their passports.

And additional R100 000 bonus will be added for the arrest of all four in one go. (Yes, this does sound like a game show.)

The reward is set to expire on Sunday 18 February 2018, but South African business people believed that they could go one better. Actually, more like 900 000 better.

“I am willing to match the reward Rand for Rand. So now we have R1 million in the pool. South Africans, contribute your spy skills. We need these crooks in jail where they belong,” tweeted businesswoman Magda Wierzycka.

That tweet received an additional 1000 likes and 1200 related tweets at the time of writing.

But was that the end of it? Nope.

In a Deal or No Deal moment, another R400 000 was added to the kitty by player three.

“I’m topping this up with R400 000. The reward is now R1.4 million,” tweeted Phiwa Nkambule, CEO of fintech company Riovic.

So. A new reward was set. And South Africans with their phones in hand and Twitter apps open, armed themselves with binoculars and jest ready to capture the fugitive.

Some however questioned the idea.

“What’s this…new-age bounty hunters? I am not sure I approve,” replied the Daily Maverick’s assistant editor Marianne Thamm.

Others queried the ethics behind offering reward money for information.

Surely the money could be put to better use? Wondered others.

But is this just a crafty social stunt?

Magda Wierzycka’s Twitter account gained more than 800 followers on 17 February 2018, an account that normally sees less than 100 new fans a day. The user interactions with Phiwa Nkambule’s tweet also likely buffed the credentials of his well-used but not well followed Twitter account.

Either way, stunt or not, it’s not likely that South Africans will turn around and walk away if they spot one of these men this weekend.

Feature image: screenshot, Magda Wierzycka (@Magda_Wierzycka) via Twitter

Andy Walker, former editor


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.