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Cops warn against spreading fake stories

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The police have cautioned the public against the “incessant promotion and distribution of malicious untruths” relating to human trafficking and kidnapping of women and children.

Social Media can be used to spread fake news

THE POLICE have cautioned the public against the “incessant promotion and distribution of malicious untruths” relating to human trafficking and kidnapping of women and children.

This follows after video clips and voice notes surfaced on various social media platforms and unsettled the public.

A video is reported to be circulating where an unknown man claims to have witnessed the kidnapping of a woman at gunpoint in Midrand.

The Gauteng SAPS dismissed the message portrayed on the video and indicated that they attended a call where a woman was allegedly robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash at gunpoint by two unknown suspects travelling in an SUV.

It is believed that the suspects may have followed the woman from a bank where she had reportedly withdrawn a large amount of money.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters stated that the suspects are said to have accosted the victim in the basement parking at the shopping centre and demanded money from her at gunpoint.

Another voice note that has been labelled as fake news by the police is in Afrikaans, by a woman calling herself Jeanie from NCIS, who claims that a child was kidnapped at a Pick * Pay store in Brits and that similar incidents happened in Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.

Peters indicated that the woman goes on to substantiate her “lies” by further claiming that police have confirmed to her that incidents of kidnapping are on the rise.

“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,” said Peters.

“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.

“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 Peters.

Parents are, however, urged to remain vigilant and prioritise the safety of their children at all times and to always be aware of their 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 continue reporting crime and suspicious activities by contacting their nearest police station or calling the SAPS Crime Stop number 08600 1011. Information may also be conveyed to the police on the MySAPS App that can be downloaded on any smartphone.