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Old doctored photo of former South African president Jacob Zuma in prison uniform resurfaces on social media in Nigeria

IN SHORT: Some Facebook users in Nigeria have posted an old photo of former South African president Jacob Zuma in prison overalls, saying their corrupt leaders should also be jailed. But the image has been manipulated. Zuma served a short time in prison but no photos of his time behind bars have been made public.

“This is the former president of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, in his prison uniform, queuing for food with fellow inmates in a South African Prison,” reads the caption of an image circulating on Facebook in Nigeria. 

The 18 March 2024 post adds: “We must take our democracy to this level if we truly want accountability and good governance in our country Nigeria.”

The image shows Jacob Zuma amid other men in what appear to be orange prison overalls.

Zuma became president of South Africa in 2009 and resigned in February 2018. His tenure was marred by allegations of corruption, mismanagement and scandals.

In 2021, the former president was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. He had failed to appear before a commission of inquiry into corruption during his presidency.

Zuma only served two months of his sentence before he was released on medical parole. He was taken back to prison on 11 August 2023 and released just two hours later, with South African authorities citing overcrowding for the abrupt release.

The image of Zuma, apparently in prison, can also be found on Nigerian social media here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But does it really show the former president in prison uniform? We checked.


Photoshopped image

This is not the first time the image has gone viral on social media. It circulated on social media in Kenya in 2021. Kenyans also used it to call for action to be taken against corrupt leaders.

Africa Check previously found that the original photo first appeared online on 12 October 2002. It was published by the AFP news agency and shows prisoners at Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town, South Africa.

The BBC also found that the image had been manipulated to show Zuma.

In the circulating image, Zuma’s head has been superimposed on the original. No photos of Zuma in a prison uniform have ever been publicised.

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