Social media abuzz with false rumours over xenophobic attacks

Police have condemned social media hoaxes related to xenophobic attacks for creating panic as users shared the information online. Among the misinformation spread on Whatsapp‚ Facebook and BBM was a looming deadline for foreigners to leave townships‚ terror group Boko Haram threats of revenge violence against South Africans living in Nigeria and alerts for parents to pick up their children from schools.

A message circulated on Whatsapp claims that foreigners have been given several dates between Friday and the end of the month to leave townships or they will come under attack.
The rumour in Inanda is that foreigners have to leave by the end of Friday while a post on Facebook claims that foreigners living in Clermont will know when to leave by the number of tyres set alight daily. File photo
Image by: RAJESH JANTILAL
The rumour in Inanda is that foreigners have to leave by the end of Friday while a post on Facebook claims that foreigners living in Clermont will know when to leave by the number of tyres set alight daily.

"These are false rumours‚" KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said.

Despite police repeatedly calling for social media users to stop posting false information online‚ the number of hoaxes continue to grow on Facebook‚ Twitter‚ BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp.

On Wednesday many parents rushed to schools across Durban to fetch their children after a false report claimed that angry mobs had made their way into classrooms.

Yesterday‚ several parents did not send their children to school after receiving a message claiming that "the entire schooling system is to be shut down as a number of schools have been attacked and the foreign children and teachers have been assaulted".

"I don’t know what to believe but the violence is real so I cannot take a chance with my child's life‚" said Magdalene Govender on why she did not send her son to school on Thursday.

Naicker said: "Spreading false information on the number of deaths and attacks‚ the different areas that are being attacked and hate speech aimed at foreign nationals not only causes undue panic in communities but also have the potential to fuel the violence". -RDM News Wire.

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