Whenever an event of national significance grips this nation, there’s always a handful that take things too far. Fake news distributors have been trying to prey on the fears and concerns of the South African public, as stories of human trafficking and kidnapping have put many civilians on high alert. SAPS, however, are looking to calm things down.
Human trafficking, kidnapping stories ‘spreading false information’
They have moved to warn the public against sharing ‘malicious untruths’ on these particularly thorny subjects:
“Police in Gauteng have noted with concern the continued peddling of fake news relating to human trafficking or kidnapping and are cautioning the public against the incessant promotion and distribution of such malicious untruths. This practice continues to spread even after the office of the National Commissioner issued a similar warning.”
“The anonymity that often surrounds the identity of the creators or sources of fake news, confirms that the intention can only be hostile, seeking to unsettle community-police relations that the SAPS is working so hard to build and restore.”
SAPS statement on false human trafficking and kidnapping posts
‘Criminal offence’ to share fake news
Just last week, SAPS Colonel Priscilla Naidu had to remind the public that sharing fake news ‘constitutes a criminal offence’ in South Africa when addressing falsehoods about the Fairview Racecourse incident. It seems another divisive story is causing the exact same problem for law enforcement, just seven days later.
Any person who publishes, distributes, discloses, transmits, circulates or spreads false information or fake news is guilty of an offence and may be prosecuted.”
Col. Priscilla Naidu
SAPS reveal ‘fake news’ stories causing concern in SA
Alleged ‘Midrand kidnapping’ never happened
A video clip of an unknown man, frantically claiming, to have witnessed the kidnapping of a woman at gunpoint at the Boulders shopping centre in Midrand, has been identified as fraudulent. SAPS have confirmed that police responded to an incident where a woman was allegedly robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash at gunpoint.
Preliminary investigations suggest that two unknown suspects travelling in an SUV may have followed the woman from a bank, where she had reportedly withdrawn a large amount of money. However, no kidnapping had taken place.
‘Jeanie from NCIS’ human trafficking story debunked… swiftly
In another fake story recorded on a voice note in Afrikaans, a woman calling herself ‘Jeanie from NCIS’ claims that a child was kidnapped at a Pick ‘n Pay store in Brits and that similar incidents happened in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. The woman further claims that police ‘confirmed to her that these incidents of kidnappings are on the increase’.
However, SAPS have labelled this as ‘nothing but just a perpetuation of this trending act of malice that only seeks to sow panic and pandemonium amongst communities’. They are far from impressed with this particular story.
SAPS warning for human trafficking ‘conspiracy theorists’
Some members of the public have taken to mainstream media with allegations of human trafficking and kidnapping, claiming to know victims or to have witnessed incidents personally. Such claims have been made at the #PutSouthAfricansFirst march on Wednesday, where protesters have shared unsubstantiated kidnapping stories.
However, SAPS say they have reached out to determine specific cases – only for the people behind the rumours to provide no details or evidence in relation to their claims.
Read the original article on The South African