The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has slammed a social media making the rounds which claims that the organisation has knowledge of the first coronavirus death. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has slammed a social media making the rounds which claims that the organisation has knowledge of the first coronavirus death. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

MJC slams fake news claiming council has info on first coronavirus death

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 23, 2020

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Cape Town - The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has slammed a social media post making the rounds which claims that the organisation has knowledge of the first coronavirus death.

In a statement released on Sunday, the MJC said: "The social media message claiming that the MJC has knowledge of the first person who passed away from the coronavirus is a fabrication. We condemn this irresponsible action, especially at such a crucial stage in our collective fight to prevent this virus from spreading.

"The MJC will report this message to the authorities and allow the law to take its course. We are aware of the government's tough stance on persons spreading false information regarding the coronavirus."

This comes after more fake news post related to the coronavirus have been circulating on social media. 

Just last week the Western Cape Health Department has refuted claims that there had been a positive Covid-19 case at the Kraaifontein Community Health Centre after a post was shared spreading fake news about a confirmed coronavirus case at the clinic.

The South African Police Service also had to dispel social media rumours that some stations around Cape Town would be closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa has assured the public that all police stations remained operational despite fake news claiming otherwise.

The week before that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) refuted "false information" posted on Twitter that a person had died from the novel coronavirus in the Western Cape.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus outbreak a national disaster, clearing the way for a raft of new regulations to be gazetted, including the criminalisation of dissemination of fake news about Covid-19.

The regulations, which were gazetted on Wednesday state that:

  •  any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about:
    • Covid-19;
    • Covid-19 infection status of any person; or
    • Any measure taken by the government to address Covid-19, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
What this means for ordinary South Africans is that simply sending on a fake report or sharing a fake news Facebook or Twitter post puts you in danger of being prosecuted.

Cape Argus

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