Pretoria - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation vowed it’s doing everything in its power to curb xenophobic attacks and investigate fake news posts misleading people on social media.
The department’s Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, held an urgent meeting on Monday with Police Minister Bheki Cele and numerous ambassadors of African nations following reports of recent xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natala and Limpopo.
In the meeting attended by representatives of the United Nations and Africa Nations, one Namibian ambassador encouraged the South African government to put it to the world that most of the posts on social media were not true.
Sisulu said police Ministers Cele and national police commissioner general Khehla Sithole gave a presentation to the delegates and asked to come back on Friday with a report that will separate facts from rumours and fake news.
“This has given people who do not have good intentions, the opportunity to throw in misleading which is not good for this country and we want to make sure that we deal with that,” she said.
In fact, one bogus website, Bulawayo24 news, published a fake news article claiming South African registered trucks were being attacked. A fact-checking process by Dirco revealed that the posts used old photos published by The Citizen in 2015.
Sisulu’s deputy Llewelyn Landers said the department announced that it was working with the police deal with threats of more xenophobic attacks distributed shared on social media. He said although some of these messages could be fake news, it was important to establish where they come from and if the sources are serious.
“There are people who are capitalising via social media and adding to what is being experienced in currently in the country and it makes life extremely difficult for us because our foreign nationals who are here, legally or illegally, then get caught up in the wave of panic and so on,” he said.
At least 300 Malawians subsequently had to be displaced as a consequence whereby two South Africans died in allegedly trying to commit criminal acts on foreign nations. This led to the foreign nationals being attacked.