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Photo of woman playing solitaire while people queue not from South Africa

For many South Africans, long queues are often associated with the department of home affairs, the country’s interior ministry. The government department responsible for verifying the status of citizens and other people living in South Africa is known for being very busy. 

A photo shared to Facebook shows a woman sitting behind a counter playing the card game solitaire on her computer while a line of people wait to be served. 

The caption says it shows a home affairs office in Durban, a city on South Africa’s east coast in KwaZulu-Natal province.

AFP fact check pointed out that while Durban is known for having residents of many cultural backgrounds, including a large Indian population, the photo was not taken there. 

Bad service from India, not South Africa

There are a number of clues that point to the photo’s origin.

One user commented on the post with a link to an article by the Indian Express. The picture of the woman playing solitaire is included in a comical collection of “things that happen only in India”. 

The same user did a reverse image search and found other links related to India, which led him to believe the post was misleading. (You can learn how to do a reverse image search on your smartphone here.)

For example, the photo is included in a 2017 article about the State Bank of India (SBI), in an attempt to prove that SBI service is bad.

In 2012 the photo was uploaded to Imgur, an online image sharing community. It can also be found in a 2013 Reddit discussion where a user said it was taken at a vehicle registration office in India. 

But others were quick to point out that this wasn’t true. One user noticed the marking on the back of the woman’s chair - “SBI/IND/CAH/157”. They said that “SBI” stood for State Bank of India. And they recognised the “sky blue” booklet propped up on the counter.

AFP contacted their fact-checking team in India for more on this. They said that the marking on the back of the chair may be a banking reference code. And online searches find SBI booklets that closely resemble the one in the picture. The Bailley water bottle on the counter is also an Indian product.

All the available evidence suggests that this photo was taken at a branch of the State Bank of India and not at a home affairs office in Durban. – Africa Check


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