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No, videos don’t show street violence during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown

This article is more than 3 years old

Two clips in a video sent to Africa Check’s fact-checking line show violent confrontations in the street, with the claim that they happened in South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The video is a recording of an Instagram story captioned: “Lock down South Africa working well... Can’t wait to go there on holiday.”

In the first clip, a group of people attack a police officer on a motorbike. In the second, a crowd throws stones at a South African police vehicle. 

The video was shared on Instagram by Mel Deane, a former professional rugby player, to his 27,000 followers. Another person’s handle is obscured behind Deane’s name on the video, suggesting it was first shared by someone else. But Africa Check was unable to identify the user. 

Were these videos really taken during the country’s lockdown?

São Paulo, not South Africa

The first clip, showing people attacking a police officer, was not shot in South Africa. It appears to have been filmed in São Paulo, Brazil, in November 2019.

An article by Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo describes a confrontation between São Paulo’s Civil Metropolitan Guard and people in an area of the city known as “Cracolândia” or “Crackland”. It includes a longer version of the video, showing a group of guards beating and dragging a person along the ground as someone shouts “chega” (enough).

A 2017 article in the Guardian describes the troubled history of the area, which has long been associated with drugs and criminal activity. Forceful government crackdowns have often ended in violence.

Second clip from Johannesburg in 2019

The second clip in the video was filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July 2019 – long before the lockdown.

South African police vehicles are clearly visible. The clip shows one driving away from a large crowd of people as they throw stones at it. 

As TimesLive reported when the incident took place, the footage shows shop owners attacking police vehicles in the Johannesburg central business district. The police had attempted to confiscate fake goods from shops in the area.

Both clips in the video have been used out of context. They do not show events during South Africa’s current lockdown. 



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