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No, South Africa’s deputy transport minister didn’t say fuel prices ‘never went up in past 25 years’

A Facebook post, photographed and reposted on Facebook and Twitter, attributes an outrageous quote to South Africa’s deputy minister of transport Sindisiwe Chikunga.

“[T]echnically, fuel prices never went up in the past 25 years,” it reads. “If you go to a garage and ask for fuel for R500, they always give you fuel for R500, people just like complaining.” 

The post is by “News Live SA” and includes a bitly link to theFull story”. A photo of Chikunga is shown beneath the quote.

Motorists in South Africa tend to flock to petrol stations to fill up their vehicles just before price rises come into effect, most recently on 4 August 2021

Fuel prices have increased in almost every month of 2021, with the inland price of unleaded petrol rising from R14.69 in January to R18.11 in August. 

But did the deputy transport minister really say fuel prices have not increased in 25 years?

Fuel_False

‘Fake news ... old fake news’

A search for “News Live SA'' on Facebook comes up empty. The bitly link leads to a site named News Updates SA. But we couldn’t find a “full story” behind the claim here. 

So we searched for the text of the quote on Google. This led us to a long Twitter thread by Jean le Roux, a disinformation researcher for the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, fact-checking it in August 2020

“Yesterday a screengrab did the rounds attributing a statement to the Dep. Min. of Transport,” Le Roux writes. “This is not only fake news...but old fake news. The website that originally posted the article, run by a former PWC employee, was shutdown almost two years ago.”

 

 

The quote was a trending topic in 2018, “snagged” by the third party website Trendolizer, Le Roux says. “Trendolizer looks like a social media trend aggregator, and in this case it grabbed the same headline in a trending story that did the rounds in July 2018...two years ago.”

Trendolizer also credits News Updates SA as the source of this claim.

Le Roux’s exposé of News Updates SA was published on News24 in 2018. Many false claims, several of them debunked by Africa Check, have come from the site.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

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