“Law enforcement and government officials have been alerted to someone injecting poison into water bottles,” a message circulating on social media in South Africa has warned.
The message says the warning comes from “the sheriff” and claims “a few people” have died from the poisoned bottled water in the “Richmond area”.
Hoax debunked last year
The messages are not new. Fact-checking website Snopes debunked the story when it did the rounds in the United States in 2018.
Snopes says the hoax has been circulating on Facebook, Twitter, text and email since at least March last year. It could be based on a video posted to Facebook that shows leaky water bottles with holes in the lids.
“If any of it were true you’d have heard about it from a more reliable source than an Internet meme,” Snopes concluded.
No official reports in South Africa
The message claims people in the “Richmond area” have already died. But it does not say which country, province or state this area is in.
Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane, a spokesperson for the South African police service in KwaZulu-Natal, said there had been no reports of poisoning in the province. Richmond town police station commander, Captain Mzingisi Yekani, said the same.
Captain Kay Makhubela, spokesperson for the police in Gauteng, said they were not aware of reported incidents.
Africa Check could not get a hold of an official spokesperson for the Northern Cape police. – Africa Check (24/01/2019)
© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. 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.