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British magician has cool tricks but wrong stats on South African orphans

This article is more than 4 years old

The Africa edition of British magician Julius Dein’s “Children react to magic” series is heartwarming and funny. 

In the widely shared Facebook video, Dein pulls a chocolate out of a young girl’s hair and turns a red handkerchief into bubblegum. The shocked children gasp, laugh and fall to the ground. 

Dein then tells the camera: “There are over 140 million child orphans in the world and 50 million of them are here in South Africa.” He urges viewers to “share the video and send the message that the children are not alone”. 

But are there really 50 million orphans in South Africa?

Number is ‘clearly a mistake’

Dein told Africa Check that the figure of “50 million orphans in South Africa” was incorrect.

“We can’t delete the video now unfortunately but [it’s] clearly a mistake,” he said. 

A number of people point out in the video’s comments section that the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) has estimated there were 52 million orphans in Africa in 2015. (Note: We have asked Unicef how this estimate was calculated and will update this spot check when they respond.)

2.3 million orphans in 2018

The most recent estimate of the number of orphans in South Africa is from the country’s national statistical agency, Statistics South Africa. In 2018, they put the number at 2,254,886.

Stats SA defines an orphan as a child younger than 18 who has lost one or both of their parents to any cause of death. The death of both parents is not required for a child to be considered an orphan.

Dein’s video is endearing, but it’s way off the mark. In fact, South Africa had a total population of 57,725,600 people in 2018. 


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