Back to Africa Check

South Africa’s transport minister didn’t say ‘potholes produce very good drivers’ – quote from satirical website

A screenshot circulating on Facebook and Twitter shows a photo of South African transport minister Fikile Mbalula – and attributes a ridiculous quote to him.

“It is not important to know how many potholes we have in this country,” the quote reads. “What is important is the fact that these potholes produce very good drivers.”

It continues: “The best drivers in the whole world are from here in South Africa. Through dodging, ducking and diving potholes, our people have become the best in driving compared to the rest of the world.”

But did Mbalula really say this?


Clowns in Suits

The screenshot includes the URL of a website: Africa Check visited the website – Clowns in Suits – and found an article containing the quote published there on 6 April 2022.

Its long headline reads: “‘Potholes can help you become a better driver. South Africa has the best drivers in the world because of potholes’, Transport Man”.

But the website repeatedly warns that its articles are satire.

“Clowns In Suits is a satirical newspaper and website,” reads a disclaimer in its “about” section and at the bottom of each page. “Clowns In Suits uses invented names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental.”

The article shows a photo of Mbalula, but doesn’t attribute the quote directly to him. Instead, it says the words are by “Transport minister in South Africa sister Fikile Lolo Mbalula”. (His full name is Fikile April Mbalula.)

Collins dictionary defines satire as “the use of humour or exaggeration in order to show how foolish or wicked some people's behaviour or ideas are”.

But some social media users seem to think the quote is real.

One Facebook user posted it with the comment, in Afrikaans: “Mooi man!! Darem los dit een probleem op. Is dit n minister hierdie wat so skerp is?” This roughly translates as: “Beautiful!! At least this solves a problem. Is this a minister who is so sharp?”

And on 21 April, Mbalula himself posted the screenshot on Twitter, stamped “Fake News”.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

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.