Are spiked oranges the latest hijacking ploy in South Africa?

Are criminals planting nail-riddled oranges on South African roads to hijack motorists? Africa Check followed the trail.

If potholes and rocks weren’t enough, South African motorists are now being urged to avoid driving over oranges.

Arrive Alive recently tweeted an image of oranges riddled with nails.

The road safety organisation advised motorists to “avoid driving over oranges on [a] road or motorway” as it may be a “possible tactic of criminals”. The image was shared over 2,400 times on the organisation’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Should motorists swerve the next time they see an orange in the road?

Source of image not verified

Founder of Arrive Alive, Johan Jonck, told Africa Check that they had received the picture from a crime intelligence group on instant messaging application Whatsapp.

They believed the oranges were left on roads to puncture vehicles’ tyres, he said. Criminals would then approach motorists when they pulled over to inspect the damage.

However, Jonck said he did not know when or where the picture was taken.

“We can’t confirm if this has happened in South Africa. We just decided to create awareness because it is possible that something like this could happen,” he said. “But irrespective of what the source might be it’s important that we do get the message across.”

No incidences reported in Johannesburg

Africa Check rang up the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department. Spokesman Edna Mamonyane said that she was not aware of this tactic.

“I haven’t received any reports of this being done in the Johannesburg jurisdiction but it is possible. Previously criminals have used rocks to damage and stop cars,” said Mamonyane.

She said officers would be informed and asked to report any oranges they saw on roads and freeways.

Original image might be from Malaysia

Using Google’s reverse image search, Africa Check discovered that the images have been previously published by a number of websites. A Singaporean citizen-journalism website, called Stomp, published the images five days before they were shared by Arrive Alive.

“Stomper Patrick alerted Stomp to a disturbing account of what an acquaintance had experienced on a highway in Malaysia,” the story states. “Photos sent in to Stomp shows oranges filled with nails that were thrown on the road by trouble-makers, possibly to deflate the tyres of vehicles that go over them.”

It is unclear exactly when and where in Malaysia this happen. Questions sent to Stomp went unanswered.

Conclusion: Juicy story unlikely from South Africa

A picture showing oranges filled with nails does not appear to have been taken in South Africa. Reports suggest the original image may have been taken in Malaysia.

Neither Arrive Alive nor the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department were aware of any incidences of this kind having been reported. However, despite the source of the image, Arrive Alive urged motorists to avoid driving over any objects in the road.

“Whether it’s an orange or an apple or whatever, the bottom line is don’t drive over it. Remain alert at all times. That’s the message we want to get across,” said Jonck.


Additional Reading

GUIDE: How to spot fakes and hoaxes online

© Copyright Africa Check 2017. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Africa Check encourages frank, open, inclusive discussion of the topics raised on the website. To ensure the discussion meets these aims we have established some simple House Rules for contributions. Any contributions that violate the rules may be removed by the moderator.

Contributions must:

  • Relate to the topic of the report or post
  • Be written mainly in English

Contributions may not:

  • Contain defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or harassing language or material;
  • Encourage or constitute conduct which is unlawful;
  • Contain material in respect of which another party holds the rights, where such rights have not be cleared by you;
  • Contain personal information about you or others that might put anyone at risk;
  • Contain unsuitable URLs;
  • Constitute junk mail or unauthorised advertising;
  • Be submitted repeatedly as comments on the same report or post;

By making any contribution you agree that, in addition to these House Rules, you shall be bound by Africa Check's Terms and Conditions of use which can be accessed on the website.