Shutdown Videos Doing the Rounds on Social Media in Mzansi Are Misleading

Shutdown Videos Doing the Rounds on Social Media in Mzansi Are Misleading

  • Several false or misleading videos have, in recent times, been doing the rounds on social media in South Africa with some of the material coming up as not being entirely reliable
  • Days of widespread public violence and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal has seen the massive distribution of videos and related material appearing to show the destruction
  • Africa Check, a non-profit organisation whose work is to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa, has separated fact from fiction to give South Africans the most precise and verifiable material possible on these

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Several videos doing the rounds on social media amid rolling unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have been deemed false and misleading by Africa Check.

The non-profit organisation, whose work is to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa, has identified at least three such videos and a voice note that are factually inaccurate.

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Africa Check, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Shutdown, Videos, Social Media, Mzansi, Misleading, False, SANDF, SAPS
Africa Check has compiled a list of false or misleading shutdown videos doing the rounds on social media in Mzansi amid days of unrest. Image: @Ms_Vuyelwa_Q, @kabelodick, @goolammy/ Twitter.
Source: UGC

Social media has been flooded with videos claiming to depict the protests as Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal reel from days of widespread looting and public violence.

Many of the videos are accurate, showing legitimate news footage and events captured by the public. However, Africa Check identified others that are being shared without verification.

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The organisation has warned that this has the potential to further stoke unrest and make the job of quelling the upheaval harder for law enforcement.

Water cannon video is from Venezuela

According to Africa Check, a video shared on Facebook, TikTok and Twitter depicts protestors fleeing as police fire tear gas and water cannons. Some of the people are blasted off their feet by the force of the water.

The caption reads:

“A water cannon for riots in South Africa.

Some protestors in the footage were carrying homemade wooden shields painted with yellow, blue and red stripes – much like those on the Venezuelan flag. With that clue, Africa Check was able to find footage of that country's protests against the government in 2017.

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Protestors can be seen carrying homemade shields bearing Venezuelan colours and other symbols used by the protestors, like the red Templars’ Cross. Shields like these also appear in the video shared in South Africa.

The white armoured vehicles of Venezuela’s national guard (the GNB) match those shown in the video.

The same distinctive yellow road barriers can be seen in videos of the protests and in the video shared in South Africa. The video shows protest action in Venezuela more than three years ago.

Africa Check's tip for separating fact from fiction: Be on the lookout for clues in the video to verify where it was taken. This can include flags, writing and unique buildings or structures.

Video of military vehicles is from Covid-19 lockdown

A video posted to Twitter on Monday, 12 July appears to show South African National Defence Force (SANDF) armoured vehicles. The vehicles are seen parked on the edge of a freeway.

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The video was accompanied by a caption that reads:

"Now things are getting interesting ... Sheep will be dealt with by the SANDF ... No thug will be released from prison cause of thugs."

Using Twitter’s advanced search functions, Africa Check was able to find the same video posted on 24 March 2020. This particular video was captioned:

"Stay indoors guys, this isn't a joke! The SANDF ain't about to play games!!"

On 23 March, last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa instituted a 21-day lockdown beginning on 27 March to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

This saw the deployment of the army to support the South African Police Service (SAPS) in ensuring that the then-Level 5 lockdown measures were adhered to.

The video of military vehicles on the freeway is not from the current unrest but from more than a year ago.

Africa Check's tip for separating fact from fiction: Using advanced functions you can refine your search to certain times and areas.

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Police have not instructed the public to 'shoot to kill'

A viral WhatsApp voice note posted on Twitter on Monday, 12 July, claimed that supermarket retailer Spar arranged for the army to be deployed. It also claimed SAPS had asked for assistance from the public.

"The police have put a thing out to say, 'armed civilians, please come and assist all areas', and jah, shoot to kill basically," the voice claimed.

The voice note is shared as a screen recording of a WhatsApp group which shows that it has been forwarded many times. The recording on Twitter has been viewed over 127 700 times while the tweet has been retweeted over 1 600 times.

According to Africa Check, National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) spokesperson, Col Brenda Muridili, rubbished the claims made in the voice note.

“The police never issued a statement requesting communities with firearms to assist,” said Muridili.

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“The police only urge law-abiding citizens to report incidents to their nearest police stations or to send tip-offs on MySAPS if they know of any plans to disrupt stability in the country.”

Africa Check's tip for separating fact from fiction: Beware of anonymous voice notes. Always check with government departments to confirm communications or announcements.

'Looting police' were confiscating goods

A video that appears to show Durban Metro Police loading goods into their vehicle was published on Monday, 12 July. The caption read:

“Durban metro police seen loading their van with looted goods. DISGRACEFUL!!!”

The video was viewed by more than 172 000 people with its had 1 500 retweets. The same video is circulating on Facebook. It shows police officers loading a police van with shopping bags before driving down a street lined with looters and protestors.

In a press release, officials from the municipality said they had conducted an investigation due to public concerns. The municipality said in a statement:

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“Upon a preliminary investigation, it was determined that the officers were not looting, but rather confiscating the goods from looters and recovering items that were abandoned by those criminal elements who were looting.
“In terms of police procedure and policy, all items recovered have been made in a SAPS register. Hundreds of people have been detained with the evidence loaded in the vehicles.
"In terms of the law, the suspect, together with any evidence, must be taken to the police station and this is what has happened.”

Africa Check's tip for separating fact from fiction: Seeing isn’t always believing! It’s easy to misinterpret a video without knowledge of the event. Check the facts before sharing misleading information.

Heartbreaking stories of the ailing masses and the businesses lost to destruction

In recent reports, Briefly News published that chaos has become the order of the day with the wailing cries of pain and destruction the only sound to pierce the once relative peace of the night across South Africa.

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Many untold stories feature prominently in what has become a raging cascade of suffering, particularly in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the two provinces at the forefront of the country's battle against total lawlessness.

The extent of it all is unspeakable with the damage to property, including malls, shops, warehouses and residential houses, amounting to excessive amounts.

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Source: Briefly News

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