PARKTOWN – Gauteng police this week lambasted fake news peddlers who have caused alarm in the province over the alleged human trafficking and or kidnapping of women and children.
The fake news, which has been backed up by equally fake videos, has gone rial, accusing especially Nigerians and Pakistani nationals in the province of being behind the alleged human trafficking and kidnapping, but police said Tuesday that these were all fake and cautioned the public against the incessant promotion and distribution of such “malicious untruths”.
“Police in Gauteng have noted with concern the continued peddling of fake news relating to human trafficking and/or kidnapping of women and children; and are cautioning the public against the incessant promotion and distribution of such malicious untruths,” said Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, the Gauteng police spokesperson in a statement.
“This practice continues to spread even after the office of the National Commissioner in the past two weeks issued a similar warning, while putting matters into perspective. A video clip has surfaced on various social media platforms where an unknown man frantically claims to have witnessed the kidnapping of a woman at gunpoint at the Boulders shopping centre in Midrand.”
The SAPS confirmed that on Tuesday morning at around 11h15 at the Boulders shopping centre, police from Midrand SAPS responded to an incident where a woman was allegedly robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash at gunpoint.
“Preliminary investigations suggest that two unknown suspects travelling in an SUV may have followed the woman from a bank where she had reportedly withdrawn a large amount of money. The suspects are said to have accosted the victim in the basement parking at the shopping center and demanded money from her at gunpoint. The suspects made off with the victim’s handbag and other valuables. Both the woman and a six-year old child who was with her, were uninjured and are safe,” said Brigadier Peters.
“In another fake story recorded on a voicenote in Afrikaans, a woman calling herself ‘Jeanie from NCIS’ claims that a child was kidnapped at a Pick ‘n Pay store in Brits and that similar incidents happened in Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. The woman goes on to substantiate her lies by further claiming that police have confirmed to her that these incidents of kidnappings are on the increase.
“Police can confirm that this too, is nothing but just a perpetuation of this trending act of malice that only seeks to sow panic and pandemonium amongst communities.”
In some instances that are not necessarily from social media, some members of the public have taken to mainstream media with allegations of human trafficking and kidnapping, claiming to know victims or to have witnessed incidents personally. However when police reach out to determine specific cases, incidents or police stations for purposes of investigation, no such detail can be provided by the same people.
Gauteng Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela saidno good could come from the spreading of fake news.
“The anonymity that often surrounds the identity of the creators or sources of fake news, confirms that the intention can only be hostile, seeking to unsettle community-police relations that the SAPS is working so hard to build and restore,” said Lieutenant General Mawela.
In the meantime, police in Gauteng will continue to give priority attention to genuine cases of human trafficking, kidnappings, as well as crimes committed against women, children, and other vulnerable persons.
Police urged people to remain vigilant and prioritise the safety of their children at all times and to always be aware of the children’s whereabouts. Children should not be left unattended as this could create an opportunity for criminals to commit crime.
“Members of the public are encouraged to report crime and/or suspicious activities by contacting their nearest police station or calling the SAPS crime stop number 08600 10111. Information may also be conveyed to the police on the MySAPS App that can be downloaded on any smartphone.”