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DA lays criminal charges against man for fake news on contaminated testing kits


The party says the decision to lay criminal charges is meant to send a strong message to South Africans against the spreading of fake news.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) announced that they have laid criminal charges against the man who claimed in a video that COVID-19 testing kits were possibly contaminated.

“The DA has been made aware of a video that is being circulated by a Cape Town man alleging that the ‘test kits’ or screening equipment that will be used by the community health workers in various communities are contaminated and will infect people with COVID-19,” DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said in a statement on Monday.

Gwarube said the DA laid charges against the man this morning for “his inaccurate, misleading and harmful comments”.

“Spreading fake news, as this person has done, is against the Covid-19 Disaster Management Regulation 11 (5) which prohibits and criminalises the spread of fake news pertaining to efforts of combating this pandemic.

“The regulations are clear that transgressors can be jailed for up to six months,” he said.

He said the action to lay criminal charges was meant to send a strong message to South Africans that the spreading of fake news would not be tolerated.

“The mass community screening, which is being rolled out in various parts of South Africa today, is an important step towards understanding the true extent and reach of our local transmissions,” the MP said.

Gwarube said the department of health needed to reach people where they were in order to screen them and refer them to the nearest health facility for full testing.

“It is not true that the community health workers will use swabs or draw blood. Their work is to screen those South Africans who may be showing symptoms and to bring the services closer to where they are.

“Mass screening will also guide on whether people are able to self-isolate and whether they need to be isolated in government-provided facilities in order to stop the further spread of Covid-19,” he said.

He said the mass screenings would assist those South Africans who lived in densely populated informal settlements and could not afford to self-isolate.

“Turning people against this measure is destructive and criminal.

“While this is not the first and possibly not the last case of fake news, it is critical that we make a stand against this destructive pattern. It is important that the South African Police Service investigate this matter without delay.

“We have already alerted our colleagues in the DA-run City of Cape Town who have confirmed that they are aware of this video and will too be taking action against the perpetrator, who is known to the City officials,” Gwarube said.

The MP further said the party called on the public to be responsible during the lockdown period time and only share facts coming from reputable sources.

“This extends beyond members of the public. This also includes public representatives, news platforms and all other stakeholders.

“We cannot afford to be derailed by fake news in the fight against this pandemic,” he concluded.

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Source: The Citizen