Joburg - The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) has urged the public to refrain from spreading fake news and bogus messages about human trafficking and the kidnapping of women and children.
This follows a prank incident where fake news emerged on various social media platforms alleging that a 32-year-old foreign national took a flight from Zimbabwe to OR Tambo International Airport on December 1 to meet his fiancé.
She indicated that he was here to collect her, and then they would travel back for their wedding ceremony.
Information indicated that he landed at Cape Town International Airport on a flight from OR Tambo International Airport.
It was further revealed that he ordered a taxi to pick him up at the airport.
He was allegedly taken in a different vehicle from the taxi he had requested.
At approximately 8pm, the fiancé is said to have received messages from his phone saying: “We got him“ and demanded money for his safe return, but no ransom amount was mentioned.
A multi-disciplinary kidnapping task team was activated to locate the whereabouts of the victim.
A preliminary investigation confirmed that there was no flight from OR Tambo International Airport as alleged in the message.
It was also confirmed that no traveller with the name and surname as per the information received had travelled from Zimbabwe to South Africa in the past three months.
Video footage at Cape Town International Airport was viewed to verify the passenger as per the description given by the complainant.
No person was found that matched such a description on the CCTV system.
A few hours later, the complainant received another message informing him that the victim was on his way home and that his phone battery was dead. The complainant contacted his family, who indicated that he was safe and that it was only a prank.
Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani expressed concern after the incident, condemning the promotion of such untrue information.
“Hawks expressed major concern about the continued peddling of fake news and cautioned the public against the persistent promotion and distribution of such negative untruths,” said Hani.