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South Africa, don’t believe recording of man posing as ANC’s Bheki Mtolo, threatening to poison ‘rotten Zulu grannies’

IN SHORT: South Africa went to the polls on 29 May 2024, but misinformation is still rife even as the official results have been finalised. This includes a provoking voice note falsely attributed to Bheki Mtolo, a provincial office-bearer for the ruling ANC.

South Africa’s 2024 national election results have been officially announced, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) failing to secure a majority for the first time since the first democratic election in 1994. 

The ANC’s losses have largely been attributed to the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party, which took the third-largest share of the national vote. It also won the largest share in the KwaZulu-Natal province, previously an ANC stronghold.

Since the announcement of the results, social media users have shared a voice note in which a man, speaking in isiZulu, describes wanting to poison “these rotten old Zulu women”, who supposedly voted for the MK Party. The voice note has been attributed to Bheki Mtolo, the ANC’s provincial secretary for KwaZulu-Natal.

The audio has been shared several times on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook, with some social media users simply sharing the claim without the audio.

But there is no evidence that this was recorded by Mtolo, and the ANC itself has said the claim is false.

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ANC warns of consequences for ‘criminals and individuals who are distributing this voice note’

In the voice note, a man’s voice is heard saying, in isiZulu: “Yabo wena mngani wami ngifisa ukubakhela umcimbi ngoba bayakuthanda ukudla bese ngithola u-poison, ujuqu, ngibafekele u-poison bafe bonke, lamaZulu lawa.  Zona izalukazi zamaZulu ezibolile. Ngifisa engathi ngingazibiza ngizifake u-poison, udoti wezalukazi lezi”.

This roughly translates to: “You know my friend, I wish I could organise a party for them, since they love eating, and poison them so they can all die, all these Zulus. All these rotten old Zulu women. I wish I could invite these trash old Zulu women and poison them.”

Another voice then says: “Ma-comrade, uMtolo lo okhululuma ku le-voicenote. Ngizocela sithiphise zonke izalukazi, si send-e kuwo wonke ama-group, amazwi awakhulumayo mayethi-.” The voice note then cuts off. This translates to “Comrades, that is Mtolo speaking”, and asks that the recording be shared to warn “grannies”. The speaker adds: “Let’s send to all group chats, the words that he is uttering, when he says-”.

There is no information in the recording to help us verify it. Neither speaker identifies themselves, and none of the examples Africa Check has seen give a source for the audio. As we’ve written in the past, when the source of a voice note is unclear, this should be a red flag that the audio can’t be trusted.

Some aspects of the language used in the voice note also suggest that this is not Mtolo speaking. The phrase “ukubakhela umcimbi”, heard in the audio clip, is not common to the isiZulu spoken in southwestern KwaZulu-Natal, where Ntolo is from. There the phrase “ukubenzela umcimbi” would be used, which means “to hold" or "organise a party for them”.

The ANC itself has said that the voice note is a “fake”. The Citizen newspaper quoted Mtolo: “As the ANC, we categorically reject this fake voice note and many more others that are being distributed purporting to be the ANC leaders.”

The party also threatened to take legal action against those responsible for producing and distributing the recording, saying it had offered a R100,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the people involved.

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