Eight people in South Africa have been arrested for disseminating false information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, confirms Police Minister Bheki Cele during a media address on Tuesday, 7 April 2020.
Previously, Cele and other authorities have on multiple occasions warned the general public against spreading fake news as it could cause people to panic unnecessarily – those found guilty of the above will have to answer to the Disaster Management Act.
Cele hopes that during country’s 21 Day Lockdown, South Africans will be able to put their difference aside in order to tackle the spreading virus.
“These are the times that must we all work together and walk in unison. These are the times that we must put aside any form of enmity. We have an enemy that has the capability of destroying and killing us together,” says Cele.
Fake news across Africa
South Africa isn’t the first nation to arrest fraudsters. In the wake of coronavirus outbreaks across Africa, a Kenyan man has been charged with spreading misleading and alarming information – essentially fake news – on social media.
Taking to Twitter, 23-year-old Elijah Muthui Kitonyo published a tweet where he (1) claimed to be working at the International Airport where the first confirmed COVID-19 case had entered and (2) that the Kenyan government were lying about the status of the case.
In an official statement from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Kitonyo will be charged with publishing false and calculated information that could result in a panic – infringing on section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act of 2018.
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