- The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has confirmed to Briefly News that a criminal case with the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been opened against an apparent spreader of fake news
- Recently, a Facebook user, 'Comrade M'sirny Mngadi', published what the IFP described as a damaging video which has instigated a torrent of abuse against party leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi
- IFP Member of Parliament Liezl van der Merwe provided an update to Briefly News, stating that the party hopes the criminal justice system will deal decisively with the perpetrator
- Van der Merwe told Briefly News that fake news has the potential to do tremendous damage
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Pince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his party have taken steps against the Facebook user who created and distributed a 'fake video' of the politician.
Three weeks ago, Briefly News carried the report that Buthelezi lambasted the originator of the video that appeared to show him condoning the spate of violence that has shone the spotlight on the community of Phoenix in Durban.
At the time, the elderly politician said the material was a "malicious" design aimed at, among other things, discrediting him after it gained huge traction on social media.
In a recent exclusive interview with Briefly News, Member of Parliament and Prince Buthelezi’s media officer, Liezl van der Merwe, provided an update on the criminal and legal steps that have been taken against the individual, 'Comrade M'sirny Mngadi'.
Case opened, SAPS implored to conduct 'full investigation'
"A criminal case has been opened against 'Comrade M'sirny Mngadi' with the South African Police Service (SAPS), with a request for a full investigation, as his fake news post is not only defamatory but can be deemed incitement to violence," van der Merwe told Briefly News.
The MP said it is, unfortunately, impossible to prevent people from spreading fake news but that the justice system has been harsh in dealing with perpetrators.
"When Prince Buthelezi expressed support for the community of Phoenix, not a single act of violence had taken place. It is, therefore, nonsensical to say that he was applauding or condoning violence.
"He has never condoned violence and has been one of our country’s most powerful advocates for peaceful resistance, negotiations and the rule of law. He made it very clear that no one should act outside the law, as that was destroying all our democratic gains."
'Buthelezi to move on but law should act decisively'
In a previous press release, Buthelezi, who conceded that the video was damaging to his image, stated that the fake news post had also instigated a torrent of abuse against him.
When asked how the political leader hopes to find reparation and move on from the incident, van der Merwe said Buthelezi has made a concerted decision to move past the incident.
"Recent court cases have judged harshly against social media being used to make defamatory accusations. We rely on social media users exercising responsibility and acting within the law," explained van der Merwe.
"Where that does not happen, action must be taken, as fake news has the potential to do tremendous damage. Anyone with an ounce of ethics is able to check and verify Prince Buthelezi’s statement.
"Having set the record straight, it is only ignorance or malice that continues to drive this false story. There is no option but to 'move on' from this incident as there is essential work to be done to restore law and order and assist all those affected by the civil unrest."
Party leaders actively on the ground during unrest
The party said it has not only condemned the violence in Phoenix but taken proactive steps taken to assist in diffusing the situation within the community to ensure it does not flare up later.
This has seen the IFP’s leaders on the ground, according to van der Merwe, in Phoenix and in other communities since the start of the recent unrest, which began as a protest by supporters for the release of former president Jacob Zuma from prison.
"Since the unrest started, IFP leaders have been calling for calm and working with law enforcement to prevent the destruction of property, looting and violence," said van der Merwe.
"We have been mobilising support and material assistance for the affected families, and are still actively engaged in interventions to diffuse the tension.
"The IFP’s strong partnership in working with the community gives us space to authoritatively speak against racial discrimination and lawlessness."
Van der Merwe said Ulundi, like all the affected communities, is facing the challenge of rebuilding its local economy. She thanked the community for cooperating with law enforcement and mobilising to prevent looting.
"[Thanks to these efforts] Ulundi was less affected than surrounding areas. In the days after the looting, we saw queues of people from surrounding areas seeking to buy food and essential items in Ulundi. The community is still working with law enforcement to maintain calm and order."
IFP concerned over the government's apparent lack of unity
In the immediate aftermath of the unrest, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged it as a failed insurrection. The IFP criticised the government for not showing enough '"unity" during the unrest.
Van der Merwe said it will be difficult to avoid similar events in the future if there is a lack of response from the government.
"It is deeply concerning that when the President called this a ‘failed insurrection’, ministers within the security cluster disagreed and contradicted the President," added the MP.
"Whether or not it was an insurrection, we need to know that our government is acting in unison so that South Africa will have the security of a State that acts swiftly and appropriately to anything that threatens our citizens, our economy or democracy.
"If this was indeed a planned insurrection, action needs to be taken which we have not yet seen. It will be difficult to prevent similar events in future if there is no response, or insufficient response, from the State."
Police Minister Bheki Cele gives details on the violence that took place in Phoenix
In other news, Briefly News recently carried the report that in a media briefing, Police Minister Bheki Cele set the record straight on the murders that took place in the suburb of Phoenix during the unrest last month.
Cele stated that community members set up illegal roadblocks to prevent entry into Phoenix, resulting in killings, violence, shootings as well as assault of people based on race, according to SABC News.
"Some set up armed search points and the situation rapidly deteriorated with some people being racially profiled at search points," Cele said, according to a quote by IOL.
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Source: Briefly News