Unisa: Fake news staffer under investigation

2018-11-16 21:05
William Mahaltse Ramatseba (Source: Facebook)

William Mahaltse Ramatseba (Source: Facebook)

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The University of South Africa (Unisa) says it has initiated an investigation into an employee implicated in fake news websites Allnews.co.za and Mzansistories.com.

The institution confirmed this on Friday after News24 revealed that an office administrator at the university's Sunnyside campus, William Mahlatse Ramatseba, was the mastermind behind a network of 15 fake news websites.

"We confirm that the university has initiated an investigation into the alleged conduct by the employee. Unisa views this alleged transgression in a very serious light and will take appropriate steps if the outcome of the investigation requires such," Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela told News24.

The institution said although it noted the media report, it still had to comply with its own internal processes and had to investigate the matter before taking action.

On Thursday, News24 revealed how Ramatseba and his sister were creating and distributing disinformation using a network of websites and social media accounts. The pair stand accused of being responsible for portraying the Dros rapist as a black man when news of the incident first broke.

The website features fabricated and sensational articles concerning politicians, celebrities and other popular topics.

Civil, criminal cases to answer for

By tracing the digital fingerprints left across 15 websites and several social media platforms, News24 could pinpoint Ramatseba as the owner of the website.

Emma Sadleir, social media lawyer and author, told News24 on Thursday that the individuals targeted by this website might have a civil and criminal claims against him.

"The website and its stories are obviously, blatantly fake, but they do generate a lot of hatred. So certainly if anyone in those stories could make a case against him for defamation, or criminal charges of crimen injuria. One could even go as far as lodging complaint of hate speech with the human rights commission for some of his articles.

"Certainly, if you are incorrectly identified as a rapist, you have a case for crimen injuria."

Sadleir's comments were in reference to the website's identification of a black man as the Dros rapist.

It seems the pair took the legal ramifications of being identified seriously. Since Thursday evening, Ramatseba and his sister have scoured their websites and social media profiles, deleting posts and photos from their websites. 

Digital footprint left behind

By Friday morning, all the posts on their website www.allnews.com had been removed.

All posts have been removed from the Allnews websi

Similarly, most of the posts on their www.mzansistories.com website were taken down, leaving only a handful of articles on the site.

Despite these attempts, both websites have already been archived, which means snapshots of the websites containing most of their original articles can still be accessed online.

Ramatseba's sister Gracy Rams deactivated her Facebook account shortly after publication. Her account was activated again earlier on Friday morning, only to be deactivated a few hours later.

A trail of broken website links were left in the wake of the clean-up. The Allnews Facebook group has also shut down.


Read more on:    unisa  |  fake news

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