Story of brutal death of 'Kamo' fake

2016-01-11 15:45

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Johannesburg - A story about the "gruesome death" of a woman called Kamogelo Peterson (Kamo), which was based on a series of tweets and led to a mass outpouring of messages on social media as well as a news report, has been exposed as fake.

On Monday, The Star newspaper reported on the tweets by @JustKhuthi, which detailed Kamo's "last day alive", but the paper later told News24 that it had since been left "red-faced".

The user referred to Kamo as her "sister" even though she said they were just good friends and not related.

She wrote about how the woman, who was heading towards a career in professional tennis and was an actuarial science graduate, had been attacked.

The user recounted how Kamo went missing and how her father and boyfriend went looking for her, only to find her car with the windscreen smashed, and blood on the driver's seat.

According to the tweets, they later found her in hospital. She had suffered too much blood loss and organ failure, and was put on life support.

Kamo also "bled from the most sacred part of her body that was violated", according to the tweets.

The tweets then went on to say that her father had switched off the life support.

Following the Twitter story which was trending, The Star wrote about Kamo, only to find out later that the story was fake.

The Star's editor Kevin Ritchie told News24 that the the fake story highlighted important issues about "Journalism 101".

"It slipped through on deadline last night [Sunday], and we did not do the most basic check of all, which was calling the police [to confirm the information],"  he said.

"We are red-faced and not happy with this at all. We are doing whatever we can to learn from this because this is not the journalism we pride ourselves on practicing... it is a huge lesson for us and the [media] industry."

The 70-tweet long story, which was posted on Sunday, was preceded by a tweet by @JustKhuthi saying: " Story time...".

Despite this, the user responded to people offering their sympathies after she posted the story: "Thank you guys for all your kind and comforting words. Your response is overwhelming and I hope this raises awareness."

As it slowly dawned on Twitter users that the story was fake, a large number lashed out, while others used the incident as a talking point about rape and violence against women.

The Department of Women said on Twitter: "Violence against women and children is real. Khuthi story may be fake but in reality there are many #Kamo's out there",  and "If the actual account of Kamo is a work of creative writing, it is inspired and reflects a sad reality of women in our country #itsnotjustastory".

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said: "Finding Kamo was more like Finding Nemo?" along with a picture of Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Writer Khaya Dlanga tweeted: "My friend says that she even included Khuthi's Kamo in her prayers last night", while DJ Poppy Ntshongwana said: "I was super confused that Kamo was about to be an actuary AND also about to blow up as a tennis star. Both are not pap and vleis careers." 

Another user, with the name Kamo's Classmate wrote: "Khuthi created Kamo as her fiction character, Kamo never even existed in the first place. I'm afraid we're dealing with a psycho, creepy."

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