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Old image resurfaces: photo from protest in South Africa, not a man digging up a road in Kenya

IN SHORT: We’d seen it before – a photo of a man digging up a road with a pick axe, shared with the claim it showed an incident in Kenya. But like in 2020, this is incorrect. The photo is from South Africa.

“Why haven’t Kenyan security agencies arrested this man damaging a public road in Siaya County? Are the security agents in Luo Nyanza working for conman @RailaOdinga?” reads the text on what seems to be a screenshot of a tweet, posted on Facebook on 17 March 2023.

The tweet adds the Twitter handles of Kenya’s directorate of criminal investigations and director of public prosecutions.  

The tweet in the screenshot includes a photo of a man apparently digging through the surface of a road with a pickaxe, as others look on. The road in the background appears to have suffered similar damage. 

We found the original tweet, posted on 16 March, retweeted nearly 600 times and viewed by more than 560,000 users.

Siaya county is in the western part of Kenya and predominantly inhabited by the Luo community. 

Raila Odinga leads the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Azimio la Umoja coalition. He ran for president in Kenya’s August 2022 general elections, in which William Ruto was declared the winner by the country’s electoral commission. 

Odinga has rejected this result. In March 2023 Odinga called for mass action, to culminate on 20 March in Nairobi. 

On this day he urged Kenyans to march to State House, demanding a more legitimate and inclusive government. In the past, political protests have resulted in the destruction of public and private property.

But does this photo show a man digging up a road in Siaya county, following Odinga’s orders? We checked. 


Same image, different text

A reverse image search reveals that the photo is from South Africa. TimesLive, a South African news site, reported on 22 September 2020 that residents of Umzinyathi, a district municipality of KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, dug up the road during a protest over lack of water and electricity. 

South African news site News24 also reported the incident.

The reverse image search also revealed that claims using this same photo with a different caption were previously debunked by Africa Check, in September 2020. 

The photo is not from Kenya, or from 2023, but shows South Africa in 2020.

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