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South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa squeezed into bus enroute to queen Elizabeth’s funeral? No, image used out of context

IN SHORT: An image doing the rounds on social media claims to show South African president Cyril Ramaphosa travelling to the funeral of the UK’s queen Elizabeth in a packed bus. But it’s being used out of context.

On 19 September 2022, queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest in Windsor, United Kingdom. Her funeral was attended by leaders from across the globe. 

Shortly after the queen’s death an image went viral in South Africa on Twitter here, here and on Facebook here, here, here, and here. It supposedly shows South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and other African leaders travelling to the queen’s funeral.

Social media has been awash with comparisons between the way African and “Western” leaders were treated at the funeral, with many African users expressing anger.

One Facebook user commented: ‘‘America and Europe will never ever treat Africa as equal partners in sovereignty status; I still don't understand why Africa like China and Iran North Korea and others is not openly supporting Russia against this colonizers and Racists Western countries led by the USA;I think this treatment will be an eye opener to our African presidents;we miss leaders like Gaddafi; Lumumba;Nkuruma; Mugabe and Chris Hani.’’

Another Twitter user said: ‘‘African leaders in one bus litterally. The step children of her majesty the queen. They are in mourning for their late mother. Fokol pride and self respect in these colonial subjects. Africa has no leaders. Vuka darkie.’’ 

But what does this photo really show?  

Ramaphosa_MContext

Photo taken in a train in 2019 

Africa Check did a reverse image search on Google to trace the earliest use of the image.

We found a newspaper report published 9 April 2019, more than three years before the queen’s funeral. The photo is captioned: ‘‘President Cyril Ramaphosa unveils and tests the new Prasa trains at the Cape Town station in the Western Cape on April 09, 2019.’’ 

We then Googled the phrase “president Cyril Ramaphosa + new Prasa trains + Cape Town’’. This led us to a video published by the presidency on 10 April 2019. It appears that the image shared in September 2022 is a still or screenshot from the 2019 video. 

The video was taken at the rollout of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) fleet renewal programme. Ramaphosa tested out the new trains at the Cape Town central train station. 

Prasa is owned by the South African government and is responsible for most passenger rail and bus services in the country.

World leaders from across world travelled by bus

It is true that some world leaders travelled to Elizabeth’s funeral on “a fleet of luxury buses”, according to the BBC. Politico reported that this request was made by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, who coordinated the funeral, and was not limited to leaders from Africa

Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, Spanish king Felipe VI and queen Letizia and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, president of Germany, among others, also travelled by bus. A notable exception was US president Joe Biden, who arrived by “armoured limousine”.

But while Ramaphosa may have travelled by bus to the queen’s funeral, the image circulating on social media of the South African president does not show this. It was taken in 2019 in South Africa.

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