Coronavirus screening has started at Nyanga Community Hall. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency
Coronavirus screening has started at Nyanga Community Hall. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Claims of three coronavirus cases in Bonteheuwel ‘fake news’

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Apr 16, 2020

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Cape Town - A fake news Facebook post about three confirmed Covid-19 cases in Bonteheuwel has sent the township into a frenzy, forcing ward councillor Angus McKenzie to lay charges against the alleged perpetrators.

According to McKenzie he was informed of a post on the Official Bonteheuwel group by Faeez Jattiem on Monday, claiming that three people from Swartysterhout Street were in ICU with Coronavirus.

McKenzie said the fake news had caused “absolute pandemonium” in the community, with residents running up and down trying to identify who the sick people were.

McKenzie later laid charges against Jattiem and moderators of the group for allegedly peddling and continuing to encourage fake news.

“I want to make it extremely clear that fake news is a criminal offence. People have been arrested and charged and gone through prosecution for spreading and sharing fake news,” he said.

McKenzie said the actions of the group moderators were reckless and unacceptable and confirmed that there were no Covid-19 cases in Bonteheuwel.

“The fact of the matter is we should be living as if everyone has Covid-19 so that we all stay indoors, following regulations. We are now dealing with a panic-stricken community because of someone and a Facebook group that has shared fake news,” he said.

However, one of the group’s moderators, Brian Adams, denied any fake news posted on the group. Adams said it was “simply” a concerned resident who tried to warn his community to be safe and stay indoors as a result of what he heard on the local radio station.

Adams said Jattiem had heard about the cases from a caller on a local radio station, which he later shared. He said upon calling the station, one of the group moderators was told that it was not on the news broadcast but that a listener had called in and said it on air.

“The radio station gave the same information to him (McKenzie), that the caller (not Faizee) was the first person to raise the allegation of infection of three residents in the particular street. He is wilfully distorting the facts for some nefarious reason,” Adams said.

Adams said McKenzie ignored the evidence of the chain of events, going out of his way to smear a concerned resident who simply tried to warn his fellow residents.

“He is the primary pedlar of fake news and he should be prosecuted for wilful distortion of the facts and spreading fake news and also for wasting valuable police resources for trivial unsubstantiated matters,” said Adams.

@Mtuzeli

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Cape Argus

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