Mozambique: Hoax Messages Damage Banana Sellers

Photo: Pierre Holtz/IRIN
A young man ferries bananas for sale.

Maputo — Sales of bananas in Maputo have plummeted following the circulation of malicious e-mails and mobile phone text messages claiming that South African bananas are infected with a lethal bacteria.

The bananas sold in Maputo are grown in Mozambique, not South Africa indeed, Mozambique exports bananas to South Africa. But this has made no difference to panic-stricken consumers who are avoiding the fruit altogether.

The Ministry of Health has assured consumers that the messages are a hoax and that nobody has appeared at any Mozambican health unit suffering from illness caused by infected bananas.

The Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Trade issued a joint statement on Wednesday stating "there is no record of the entry of any infected bananas into the country", and guaranteeing that staff on the borders are careful to avoid the entry into the country of any infected produce.

This has not done the banana sellers in Maputo any good at all. One of the suppliers of bananas to the Maputo market, Horacio Simbine, told the independent television channel STV, that he has been unable to move bananas out of his warehouse because of the rumour.

Yet none of his bananas come from South Africa. Simbine said they are all produced by the company Bananalandia, in Boane district, about 30 kilometres west of Maputo. Mozambique has not imported bananas from South Africa for the past ten years, he said.

The authorities in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal, where the lethal bananas are supposed to come from, have also stressed that there is no reason for alarm. South African banana producers have publicly expressed their indignation at the malicious hoax.

The hoaxers claimed that the bacterium involved causes necrotizing fasciitis, an extremely rare infection of the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues, often referred to as a "flesh eating disease". It cannot be caused by eating fruit.

Pf/ (321)

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2011 Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

The 10 Most Read Stories of 2011

A young man ferries bananas for sale.

This allAfrica feature looks at the 10 most popular stories on the site for this year. Read more »