The South African Department of Home Affairs has come out against fake news publishers, saying in an interview with Political Analysis South Africa this week, that government “can unleash the Hawks [South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] or whoever it is” to investigate, “get the people, prosecute them and take them to jail.”
The comments were in response to a fake news article targeting Home Affairs Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo.
The hoax came from an article of known fake news website, gossipmillsa.com. The website invented the following story and quote: “Speaking in Pretoria on Thursday morning, Dlodlo said the news hurt her because even if the South African government is willing to assist, its hands are tired because the South African government can only help its people if they are here in the country.”
Reacting to the false article, the Minister’s spokesperson, Mava Scott, lamented the rise of fake news both in South Africa and globally, and proposed that for “all domains that have a link or bear the identity of South Africa as a country, government can intervene, in consultation with other key stakeholders in the sector.”
Scott believes it is the time “to take a tougher stance as government, to say that we will prosecute anybody who does this type of thing [fake news].
South Africa has seen the proliferation of fake news websites in recent years, these sites use seemingly genuine reports to confuse an unaware South African public, which typically shares the fake news on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, without checking the credibility of the source, or cross-referencing with reputable mainstream news websites, the veracity of the claims made by the fake news publishers.