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No, student in Soweto, South Africa didn’t find R40 million and hand it over to police

An isiZulu-language post published on Facebook on 1 December 2021 claims that a schoolgirl in South Africa’s Gauteng province found a bag containing R40 million.

“Umfundi owenza uGrade 8 esikoleni saSoweto. Gauteng ‘uthole’ ngesikhwama ebesino R40 million wase ethatha leskhwama wasidlulisela emaphoyiseni,” the post says. This translates to “a grade 8 learner from Soweto, Gauteng ‘found’ a bag containing R40 million and took the bag to the police”. 

The post includes a photo of a young girl smiling at the camera and shaking hands with a man in police uniform. The girl is in school uniform and appears to be holding a framed certificate. 

The claim has also been shared on Twitter. A viral tweet claims that the learner is from Seana Marena High School in Soweto and that she received a good citizens award after turning in the bag of money. It also claims that the learner returned the money because “she wants to focus on her studies and not money”.

Is this good news story true? We checked. 

soweto_girl_false

Photo of top student from Mpumalanga province

We could not find any credible South African sources that reported a high school student had returned a bag of money to police.

South African media outlet EBNewsDaily tracked down the police officer in the photo who confirmed the story was false. 

The officer was identified as “Constable Malaza” and said that the photo was taken in Ermelo in Mpumalanga province – not Soweto. He explained that the regional South African Police Services had given assignments to school students earlier in 2021 and had nominated top students as “junior station commanders”.

“I’m worried that people are already peddling false information about this picture,” he reportedly said.

Another Twitter user also called the claim “fake” and posted a photo showing five other students wearing the same uniform and holding similar certificates. 

There’s no evidence a grade 8 student in Soweto handed over R40 million she’d found in a bag.

 

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