Accused “Mudwata” character, Keron Bruce charged for cyberbullying

The man allegedly behind the social media cartoon character “Mudwata”, 35-year-old photographer Keron Bruce was on Friday charged with using a computer to embarrass and humiliate a local journalist.
Bruce, of 295 Soesdyke Back Road, East Bank Demerara (EBD), was arraigned before Magistrate Sunil Scarce at the Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrates’ Courts.
It is alleged that on January 25, 2021, at Soesdyke, EBD, he used a computer system to disseminate information about journalist/editor Leroy Smith, knowing same to be false. Police are alleging that the information subjected Smith to public ridicule, contempt, hatred, or embarrassment. Bruce, who was represented by Attorney-at-Law Bernard Da Silva, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted $100,000 bail.
He returns to court on April 29. Back in January, Police arrested Bruce along with several other persons on allegations of the cartoon character slandering persons.
Police headquarters said that ranks seized several pieces of equipment from Bruce’s DD Eccles, EBD home. In addition, several voice messages were also collected, which when analysed, matched with the “Mudwata” commentary.
His arrest came days after Smith, who is also the owner of the online media outlet, Big Smith News Watch, offered a $1 million reward for the proper identity of the cartoon character. Smith made this offer after a video was posted by “Mudwata” aggressively attacking him. Smith, after the arrest, had stated that several persons had come forward with information about the cartoon character.
As such, a court order was issued to search Bruce’s house for any evidence that would pin him to the character. The Police are obliged under the provisions of the Cyber Crime Act 2018 – a legislation that was passed under the previous APNU/AFC Government – to investigate any report made with respect to cyberbullying.

Libel suit
Then in February, Bruce filed a $101 million libel suit against Mikhail Rodrigues, better known as the “Guyanese Critic”, whom he has accused of slandering him.
In the lawsuit filed at the Demerara High Court, Bruce claims that on January 29, 2022, Rodrigues, via a Facebook Live which attracted 761 comments, 933 reactions, 33,000 views, and 91 shares, made several false and defamatory statements about him being the person behind the animated character.
Maintaining that he and the “Mudwata” character are not “one and the same”, Bruce said that Rodrigues has not presented any credible evidence to the contrary and therefore this cannot be a “matter of fact”. He said that this has not been proven in a court of law, nor has he been convicted of a crime.
The photographer alleged that Rodrigues’ utterances were for the sole purpose of increasing views, financial gains, followers, reactions, and for his own personal clout. According to him, these comments have caused irrevocable damage to his reputation and have subjected him to public ridicule, contempt, hatred, and embarrassment, and have also brought his career into disrepute.
Bruce told the High Court that he is fearful so much for his life that he has hired a 24-hour security service for himself and his family because Rodrigues has threatened to “show up” at his home and go live on Facebook.
Apart from monetary award for damages, the photographer is asking the court to order Rodrigues to publish or cause to be published, an apology to him. He is also seeking a permanent injunction restraining Rodrigues from publishing or causing to be published, the posts or similar words which are defamatory to him. (G1)