Cape Town - Two men from Bonteheuwel are living in fear after their friends made a fake social media post claiming they abduct children and sell them for R5 000. The post went viral on Facebook and WhatsApp.
Moegsien Lee, 24, and Ismaeel Jacobs, 22, say two women, both aged 22, shared the post as a joke. But it’s made their lives miserable and put them in danger.
Moegsien says on Tuesday one of the women asked him on WhatsApp for a nice picture of himself.
“She told me there was a girl who wanted to chise me (was interested in me) and wanted to see a nice picture, so I sent it. Then Ismaeel came to show me this post,” he says.
The post reads: “Hi all please share amongst family and friends. These guys apparently steal kids and sell them for R5 000. They were spotted in Mitchells Plain and is operating in Bonteheuwel now. Please look after your kids and those of others. (sic)”
Ismaeel adds: “She first put it as her WhatsApp status and then someone took it and shared it on all the Facebook pages.
“That thing went viral and became so big, everyone was asking us about it and some people even added their own stories.
“By the next day, everyone was talking about it. And I live near a park, now people think I am going to steal their children,” says Ismaeel.
The men, who work as rubble removers, say they confronted the women, who apologised, but they say they want their names cleared.
“They made our lives miserable and put us in danger. We were supposed to go to a party in Somerset West, but they told us not to come because the people there want to hurt us,” says Ismaeel.
Moegsien says their community was angry and they hid in his home the entire week.
“We couldn’t even go outside because the people were cross with us, thinking we were stealing children,” he says.
The mother of one of the girls, who asked not to be named, says they did not mean to cause harm.
“It was a joke, they did not think it will go so big. The four of them are friends and they apologised. They won’t do it again,” the mother says.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Philani Nkwalase says child abduction and human trafficking is no joke and posts like these could have serious consequences.
“We see a lot of these fake posts, but we only get involved when a matter is reported. Human trafficking is very real and making fake posts is very dangerous,” he says.
“If the community revolted and caught these guys, we could have seen a vigilante attack and those girls would have been charged for inciting violence. People must be careful about making fake posts like this.”