South Africa: Mbalula to Report Somizi for Fake News and Misinformation Over Lockdown Extension

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula said he will reporting celebrity Somizi Mholongo to police for fake news and misinformation peddling after he claimed that the minister had told him about the lockdown extension before the official announcement was made on Thursday evening.

Shortly before President Ramaphosa addressed the nation, where he announced that the lockdown would be extended for a further two weeks, a video started circulating on social media where Mhlongo was heard saying that he was told by Mbalula that the lockdown was being extended.

Mbalula took to Twitter, sharing the video, which was a recording of Metro FM radio host Dineo Ranaka's Instagram Live video, denying that he spoke to Mholongo.

Mholongo then later released a video, where he apologised to Mbalula. He stated that he did not speak to the minister, but was only making a joke, where he was guessing that the lockdown would be extended.

In a statement, Mbalula said he was obligated by statutes, policies and regulations of Parliament and government to take action and seek consequence management over the matter.

"I have discussed the Mr Mhlongo name-dropping of my name with President Cyril Ramaphosa and will on Friday morning report this matter to law enforcement authorities as regulated and published under the Disaster Management Act on fake news & mis- information peddling," Mbalula said.

"I have noted Mr Mhlongo's apology however I do not view his utterances as mere joke, the country is going through a serious disaster management period and any misinformation, irregular or unauthorized information being published is both unlawful and not assisting in our cause to manage public affairs carefully."

"Even though Mr Mhlongo guessed it right in his speculative discussion - he went further to mislead the public about the source of his information which undermines and is pre-emptive on government and the president over very sensitive information of a national security calibre of which I am very sensitive to and have adhered to in all my time in the executive."

Mbalula added that Mhlongo acted very recklessly and irresponsibly.

"Name dropping has caused enough harm in our discourse before and we must now nib it in the bud."

Source: News24

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