Back to Africa Check

South Africa’s EFF party making fake identity documents for migrants? No, photos snapped during police raid on forger’s flat

IN SHORT: The claim that a South African opposition party is manufacturing identity documents for foreigners has been doing the rounds on social media, ahead of the country going to the polls in 2024. But there’s no evidence for this.

“EFF Office in Hillbrow is manufacturing fake South African ID's in big numbers, so that Zimbos and Nigerians will vote for EFF in 2024,” reads a message circulating on social media in South Africa since December 2023 and into January 2024.

It adds that this is “the reason why EFF is fighting Operation Dudula because Operation Dudula is actually disturbing EFF vision”.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, or EFF, is a major South African opposition party. The country is set to hold elections some time in 2024.

“Zimbos” is a derogatory term for people from Zimbabwe, one of South Africa’s northern neighbours.

Hillbrow is a densely populated suburb of apartment blocks in the inner city of Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city. It has long been the first port of call for migrants. Since the 1980s these have mainly been people from other African countries.

Operation Dudula is a movement that opposes migration into South Africa from elsewhere on the continent. It is widely recognised as being xenophobic. “Dudula” is isiZulu for “force out” or “knock down”. In 2023 it registered as a political party.

The EFF is highly critical of the movement, which party leader Julius Malema has dismissed as “self hate”. Members of the EFF and Operation Dudula have even clashed in the streets of Hillbrow.

As proof of its claim, the message shows photos of dozens of official papers such as passports and identity documents – known locally as IDs – lined up on a floor. Many versions use a screenshot of an X (formerly Twitter) post from April 2022.

The message implies that the EFF is making fake IDs for migrants so that they will vote for the party in the upcoming elections.

But were the photos really snapped in the EFF’s “office in Hillbrow”?

EFFFakeID_False

Hillbrow flat raided, suspect charged with fraud

Africa Check ran the photos through Google Lens, which finds exact matches for images elsewhere on the web.

This led us to a South African Police Service (SAPS) press release issued in April 2022.

It says a “tip-off from the community” led to the arrest of a 47-year-old Zimbabwean citizen found with more than 95 “fraudulent documents” in a Hillbrow flat on 14 April. The statement includes one of the photos.

The documents included IDs, birth certificates, passports, bank statements, Covid-19 certificates, work permits and gun licences. The suspect was charged with fraud.

The statement doesn’t mention the EFF.

The SAPS also posted photos of the raid on X. They are the same photos used in the claim.

The X post reads: “Gauteng Police Commissioner welcomes community #TipOff that lead to the arrest of a suspect , aged 47, found with fraudulent documents at a flat in Hillbrow on 14/04.”

 

 

The photos were taken in a flat in Hillbrow raided by police, not an EFF office. There’s no evidence the party is “manufacturing fake South African ID's in big numbers”.

And the EFF’s only office in Johannesburg is in Marshalltown in the city centre, not in Hillbrow.

Republish our content for free

Please complete this form to receive the HTML sharing code.

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.