Enter too, the age of Fake News. While the phenomenon of false information being spread online is not new in South Africa, such false information has largely focused on celebrities, politicians and other individuals with high public profiles. However, recently social media accounts purporting to parody media houses, including Radio 702, the Daily Maverick, and Huffington Post have come to light. While parody and satire are intended to be humorous, these accounts are far from humorous. Instead, they appear to be a deliberate effort to spread misinformation and blatant lies regarding the allegations contained in the State of Capture Report. Their intended purpose is all too clear: to confuse the public and create greater distrust for the media. What is alarming though, is the invidious nature of fake news – aimed at shutting down independent voices, at a time when the media and the Judiciary are at the forefront of the fight against grand corruption.
The Fourth Estate has a vital role to play in upholding South Africa’s constitutional democracy. But for investigative journalists – including amaBhungane and Scorpio – the nation would be none the wiser regarding the degree of State Capture. At a time when daily news reports reveal the breathtaking extent of State Capture, it is even more shocking that the National Prosecuting Authority is yet to announce any arrests regarding the lawbreaking.
By Ms Phephelaphi Dube, Director: Centre for Constitutional Rights