Back to Africa Check

Ignore bogus ‘shocking news’ posts about South African celebrities. They contain links to dodgy e-commerce sites

IN SHORT: Several Facebook posts claim there’s news about some prominent person that has “shocked all South Africans”. But the posts link to scammy websites that have nothing with the celebrities and their “tragic end” or “secret”.

“Die nuus vanoggend het alle Suid-Afrikaners geskok!” That’s Afrikaans for “the news this morning shocked all South Africans”, and it’s a common theme in a new scam circulating on Facebook in 2024.

The various versions of the scam use photos of prominent South Africans, with false clickbait headlines suggesting they have met a “tragic end” or have had a “secret” about them revealed – sometimes both.

One shows a photo of Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters political party. South Africa is set to hold national and provincial elections on 29 May. The headline below the photo reads: “Die nuus vanoggend het alle Suid-Afrikaners geskok! Die geheim van die groot leier is uiteindelik geopenbaar!”

This translates to: “The news this morning shocked all South Africans. The great leader’s secret has finally been revealed.”

A variation on this says, in Afrikaans, that Malema has met a “tragic end”.

Another version uses photos of tech entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. The headline is similar, reading: “Skok! Die tragiese einde van Mark Shuttleworth. Sy geheim is uiteindelik geopenbaar.” (“Shock! The tragic end of Mark Shuttleworth. His secret is finally revealed.”)

Yet another version shows cricketer AB de Villiers, suggesting he’s in trouble with the law: “Die tragiese einde van AUberVilliers! Vanoggend het die nuus alle Suid-Afrikaners geskok!! Aanklagte teen AUberVilliers bevestig!” 

This translates as: “The tragic end of AUberVilliers! This morning the news shocked all South Africans. Charges against AUberVilliers confirmed.”

Facebook users have complained about this version, with one posting on a cricket page: “These scammers and Fake News distributors just never Gives up.”

Actor and producer Pearl Thusi is another celebrity who has allegedly met a “tragic end”.

The previews in some versions of the scam show Citizen.co.za, News24.com or Netwerk24.com, the URLs of legitimate South African news sites. But when you click on the “Learn More” button, the link goes elsewhere.

Nothing but the facts

Get a weekly dose of facts delivered straight to your inbox.

SAE-commerceSites_False

None of the ‘shocks’ to be found in the news

All the posts link to e-commerce sites, most of which sell either clothing and accessories or, oddly enough, children’s books. Most of the URLs are dodgy and seem unrelated to the products – such as startcapitalstructure.com and startriskdiversificationlearn.com.

Some of the links are now broken, but several of the suspicious sites are still live. Only one version leads to a legitimate ecommerce site, for the US clothing company YoungLA.

The almost identical wording used in the scam’s different versions is a pretty clear indication that its sensational headlines are false.

But to be sure, we checked the news.

There have been no recent reports that a major “secret” about Malema has “finally been revealed” or that he has met a “tragic end”. Given his prominence in politics, either would have made front-page headlines.

Similarly, neither Shuttleworth nor Thusi have had a “tragic end”. And De Villiers is not facing any charges.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on africacheck.org.

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

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta'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.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.