DA welcomes arrest of a man accused of spreading fake news and offers a fake news check service for the public 

Please find attached soundbite by DA Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Phumzile Van Damme MP

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the arrest of the Cape Town man who distributed a video in which he alleged that the “test kits” or screening equipment used by health workers during the rollout of the nationwide community screening programme was contaminated with Covid-19.

Yesterday the DA laid criminal charges (Case number 05/04/202) against him for sharing disinformation about Covid-19. His comments are in contravention of the Covid-19 Disaster Management Regulation 11(5), which prohibits and criminalises the spread of fake news pertaining to efforts of combating this pandemic.

This is indeed a victory in the fight against disinformation which has marred screening and testing programmes in various communities, with reports surfacing that many people are refusing to get tested, saying that the swabs used to test for the novel coronavirus are contaminated.

Reports that there have been incidents where there was a refusal to be tested for Covid-19 due to fears of contamination of testing kits are very concerning. Mass screening is a crucial tool in ascertaining the true extent of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and to ensure that those who are infected receive treatment.

The DA trusts that this arrest will send a strong message to South Africans that the spreading of fake news is a serious offense with equally serious consequences.

To help the public deal with the prevalence of fake news, the DA has launched a campaign aimed at educating the public about what disinformation and fake news is, how to identify it, report it and where to find the correct information about Covid-19.

We are offering the service to South Africans to contact myself via my social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should they come across instances of disinformation, misinformation and fake news. Clarity about the authenticity of information that may appear to be untrue may also be sought.

The DA is committed to supporting efforts in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we remain resolute in ensuring we protect citizens against the spreading of harmful fake news during this time.

That is why we will continue to avail ourselves through various online platforms including our social media pages to verify all news pertaining to the novel coronavirus