Fake news about xenophobia on social media aimed at ruining brand SA - govt

2019-04-03 13:27
File photo: An anti-xenophobia march in Johannesburg, with both locals and foreigners    participating. (Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

File photo: An anti-xenophobia march in Johannesburg, with both locals and foreigners participating. (Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

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The government has warned South Africans not to be "duped to believe everything they read or see on social media that is purported to be about attacks on foreign nationals".

Acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Director General Phumla Williams said fake images and videos on social media were aimed at "ruining brand South Africa".

Williams' comments follow recent attacks on foreign nationals in parts of Durban and in Limpopo.

On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned violence against foreign nationals and called on law enforcement agencies to act against those who commit xenophobic crimes. 

At the same time, Cabinet ministers Lindiwe Sisulu and Bheki Cele led an engagement with heads of diplomatic missions to work out how to better integrate communities in South Africa.

Fake news fuels tensions

News24 reported last week that local residents had raided the homes of some foreign nationals, forcing them to seek refuge at nearby police stations and mosques.

Williams said that the justice crime prevention and security cluster had been "working around the clock to address the issue of attacks against foreign nationals".

READ: Xenophobic attacks: 'I go to Malawi with a heavy heart' 

She said there was a fresh wave of misinformation being spread on social media sites.

"Government would like to caution that the spread of misinformation, fake pictures and videos on social media, as well as fake websites, may be fuelling tensions in our communities between South Africans and foreign nationals.

"Certain images and videos that appear on social media are old and unrelated to any of the reported incidents of alleged attacks on foreign nationals over the past few days," William said.

'Brand of South Africa'

She said the recent spate of the fake online stories which were fuelling tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals called for greater efforts to raise awareness in society about fake news and fake social media posts.

"Fake news stories are a slanderous attempt against the brand of South Africa, with no interest in respecting the constitution of South Africa.

"We urge South Africa citizens to be vigilant and not spread fake information and images that may give an implication to be attacks on foreign nationals," added Williams. 

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Read more on:    polokwane  |  durban  |  xenophobia
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