A hoax report by South African broadcaster, eNCA, about a purported visit this week by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to South Africa, has received a strong rebuke from the Russian Embassy in Pretoria.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Embassy said it is “highly disappointed by the false reporting on President Vladimir Putin’s imaginary visit to South Africa by eNCA news”, and that broadcaster did “not attempt to contact the Embassy for clarification.”
Speaking to Political Analysis South Africa on Wednesday, 7 February, the Embassy’s Press Attaché, Alex Kulyaev, decried what he terms the “modus operandi of some of the media outlets here in South Africa”, saying that they “see this kind of approach very often” – in reference to media outlets running unverified stories.
Kulyaev, however, says not all journalists are guilty of such behaviour, as some of the journalists do approach the embassy “to verify the information before hand.” But says “very often, prominent outlets run news without contacting us whatsoever, without doing any background research, or laying the groundwork.”
Asked about instances where the Embassy has been a victim of false reporting, Kulyaev said “there was a very high profile case which made national news here in South Africa, where the Sunday Times last fall published a piece saying that a secret Russian delegation came to South Africa and met with President Jacob Zuma and forced him to put David Mahlobo in the position of the Minister of Energy – which was completely untrue.”
The hoax report by eNCA emanated from a supposed statement from the Presidency that was doing the rounds on social media. The Presidency has since dismissed the statement, saying it is “fake and is a fabrication.” eNCA for its part, has deleted both its tweet on twitter, the hoax report from its website, and the broadcaster’s Managing Director, Mapi Mhlangu, openly admitted that the statement about Putin’s visit was “not legitimate” and that “eNCA apologies (sic) for spreading fake news.”