- It is fake news that President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered foreign immigrants to leave Mzansi, blaming them for spreading Covid-19
- Minister Jackson Mthembu denies Ramaphosa expelled foreigners and said the lockdown will not be extended by three months as spread on social media
- Immigrants' organisations call for culprits spreading fake news on Covid-19 to be arrested
By Joseph Chirume
The South African government has reassured foreign nationals that President Cyril Ramaphosa never blamed them for spreading the coronavirus in the country.
The government also denied that Ramaphosa ordered their mass deportation to their countries of origin to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Responding on his Twitter account on Tuesday, acting Communications Minister Jack Mthembu distanced Ramaphosa from a message circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook platforms that the president wanted all foreigners to return to their countries of origin.
The threatening message has unsettled many immigrants, prompting some of them to start preparing for the unknown.
The inflammatory message alleges that Ramaphosa's efforts to curb the spreading of coronavirus were being curtailed by foreigners who were not complying with the government's strict lockdown regulations.
The message further stated that the government wanted to extend the lockdown by three months starting from 21 June.
The message also blamed foreigners for their continued presence, saying it prevented the South African government from providing free basic services to its citizens during the lockdown period.
The message stated:
"President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked all foreign nationals to depart South Africa before 21 June 2020 due to increasing cases of Covid-19. The president is asking all foreigners to vacate so that the country can be left with its only citizens who will be given free food, water, electricity and free rent."
The fake message concludes by asking the presidents of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Malawi, Kenya and other countries including China, Japan, India, Somalia and Burundi to send transport to ferry their citizens.
It said soldiers would go on a door-to-door blitz searching for foreigners.
Speaking exclusively to Briefly.co.za, Secretary-General of The Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network (ZiMSN), Shelton Chiyangwa, said his organisation had for the past two days been inundated with enquiries from its members.
"The ZiMSN wishes to dismiss a fake message making rounds through social media platforms. The fake article is not only reckless but may end up causing serious anxiety, despondence and panic to foreign immigrants. We urge our members not to panic," said Chiyangwa.
Community for African Nations in South Africa (Canisa) secretary-general, Abdul Olatunji, promised to investigate the source of the message.
"This is nothing but fake news. People should obey the government and desist from disseminating false and fake news."
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