When the online arm of Independent Media falsely reported on Tuesday night that ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule had been served with a warrant of arrest, it might have been an innocent mistake. But the speed with which Magashule-affiliated groups expressed concern suggested a more coordinated campaign afoot.
On Wednesday, the SABC News Online website was inadvertently summing up the mess.
Under its "most viewed" stories tab, the top article was: "Ace Magashule issued with a warrant of arrest."
The second most viewed story: " 'There is no arrest warrant issued for ANC SG #AceMagashule,' says Hawks spokesperson."
The report that ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule was to be arrested first entered the public domain on Tuesday night via a tweet from the Independent Online, or IOL News.
"BREAKING NEWS: A warrant of arrest has been issued for ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule," it read. "Story to follow on IOL.co.za."
The tweet was retweeted almost 8,000 times.
The promised story was published shortly thereafter, under the headline: "ANC secretary general Ace Magashule confirms warrant has been issued for his arrest".
It stated not only that the arrest warrant had been issued - "Independent Media reliably learnt" - but also that...