File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The latest fake news alert wasting police resources and sowing panic concerned a video circulated on Facebook which shows a man being arrested at N1 City Mall in Cape Town.

It was alleged that the man in the video had been apprehended by a Checkers security guard for kidnapping a child. But police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that this is "fake news".

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said: "Regarding the person in the video clip, he was arrested for theft and not kidnapping. He appeared at the Goodwood Court Magistrate's Court on Monday on theft charges.

The SAPS has previously noted with concern the increasing number of false posts on social media about missing, kidnapped and abducted girls and women. 

They said in a statement that "while social media has proven a helpful medium for both the community and the police, hoaxes, the fake news and dissemination of false information the SAPS has experienced of late not only spread panic among local communities, but also waste the police’s time and resources".

The police also warned that people can be arrested for posting false information on social media.