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No, four Zambian trucks not set alight in South Africa in late 2020, and photo from 2018

A photo of a truck on fire, at night, was posted on Facebook on 26 November 2020 with the claim that four Zambian trucks were set alight and one Zambian stabbed in South Africa. 

This, the post says, was part of a “recent wave of violent protests against foreign truck drivers”. 

Is the post accurate? We checked.

Zambian truck drivers encouraged to be cautious 

The Facebook post is attributed to “Phoenix News”, a segment on the Zambian radio channel Phoenix FM.

On 26 November 2020, Phoenix FM did publish an article about Zambian truck drivers travelling to and from South Africa. It says Zambia’s high commissioner to South Africa, Major General Jackson Miti, has asked truck drivers to be cautious on the roads, following attacks against foreign truck drivers in some parts of the country. 

But the article does not say anything about four Zambian trucks being set alight or a Zambian driver being stabbed. On the contrary, it says “no Zambian national was affected by the violent attacks against foreigners”. 

Photo of truck burning from 2018

South Africa is no stranger to outbursts of xenophobic violence. These are usually widely reported by all the country’s major, credible news organisations. But a search for more information on a supposed attack on Zambian trucks did not return any credible results. 

What about the photo of the burning truck?

A reverse image search shows that it first appeared online in May 2018 when several trucks were set alight near the Mooi River Toll Plaza in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. 

At the time, it was suspected that the people setting the trucks on fire were connected to South African truck drivers who were upset that foreign drivers were being given jobs instead of them. But this was not confirmed.   

As the photo has been online since at least May 2018, it couldn’t possibly show a Zambian truck on fire in November 2020. 

While xenophobic violence is a real issue in South Africa, it is irresponsible to share old photos to untruthfully represent current events. – Africa Check 


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