Durban - Hoax social media messages on WhatsApp and Facebook about child kidnappings and abduction are sending parents into a frenzy.
Following a call from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to end hoax social media messages and to stop sharing unverified messages, a Gillitts woman apologised after her WhatsApp voice note claimed children were being abducted in the area.
The South African Community Crime Watch also reacted to a hoax voice note that was sent on WhatsApp on Thursday claiming a child was abducted at the Gillitts Primary School.
Steven King, SACCW KZN coordinator, said they immediately made contact with the woman who sent out the original voice note.
The woman had gone to pick up her children at school. While she was there she heard loud hooting and children screaming.
"She then saw a man with a brown jacket running. She made sure her children were safe and left without looking to see what happened next. She states that with all the messages on social media about children being kidnapped she became extremely anxious and sent out a voice note warning parents of the impending danger at the school," King said.
This together with a video doing the rounds of a white a Toyota Avanza which tried to abduct a school girl on her way home and two children who were supposedly almost kidnapped from a school in Motala Heights on Thursday, compelled her to warn all parents via a WhatsApp voice note.
"The children also confirmed that it was not the security officer as he was wearing a black jacket in the morning. It has now come to light that it was, in fact, the security officer who was running to the top field to fetch a child. She has now apologised again to [failing to] confirm before sending out voice notes like this as it could lead to chaos, "King said.
The police earlier on Friday called on the public to stop sharing foreign video clips on social media platforms and reporting them as local.
"The SAPS has noted with great concern the recent spike in video clips on various social media platforms which in recent times have depicted cases of child kidnappings and abduction. The police have, since these postings started going viral, been trying to confirm if those depictions did or did not occur in any part of South Africa.
"To this day, there is no evidence that suggests firstly, that these incidents happened in South Africa and secondly, that these incidents are actually legitimate. By now, besides reporting this to the police, one would have expected at least a family would have come forward to publicly confirm at least one of those videos to be legitimate. Secondly the police will never know that these incidents really happened if they are not officially reported. Therefore the only reasonable conclusion we can draw from this is that these videos are hoaxes," said police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo.