Police warn of fake viral messages

Azarrah Karrim

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo says there have been many text messages, videos and pictures circulated to intimidate foreign nationals, most of which are fake or old.

  “Ninety-nine percent of them are either old or are fake, or they are not from this country,” he said.

  He mentioned a video on social media of a man who was burnt alive, saying that happened in January this year.

  “Far too many people are posting fake and old messages, pictures and videos and some of them are gruesome. This has the potential to incite further violence,” he said.

  There have been many threatening messages aimed at foreign nationals in South Africa, as well as violent videos, but their authenticity has not been confirmed.

  On Tuesday Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department had received messages regarding disruptions due to an insinuation that there is a vehicle kidnapping children and burning schools in and around Katlehong.

  “Subsequently, parents were panicking, fetching their children from schools,” he said.

  However, Mabona said Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi found no burning of schools when he visited the area. “MEC Lesufi visited Lungisani Primary School which was reported to be on fire. We wish to inform that there is no school burnt.”

  Among the messages were some that warned foreign nationals to leave before a certain date, threatening to kill them if they did not. There were also messages that promised to ramp up unrest because foreign nationals have killed people since the unrest started.

  “It doesn’t matter what they post, the fact that they are posting, it causes a problem. In 2008 we had the same thing we had earlier in the year; the same messages seem to be coming up again, some of them slightly modified,” Naidoo said.

  While foreign nationals fear for their lives, Naidoo reassured everyone in this regard. “People should not be fazed by these messages, and we have put measures in place to ensure the safety of everyone in South Africa.” News24

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