Hoaxes, scams (and half truths)

Viral message advertising free ‘lockdown funds’ is scam

A website promising “Free Lockdown funds” has been widely shared on social media in Kenya.

The website, with the address www.uhurukenyattafoundations.com, asks visitors to “Please complete the survey to avail free lockdown funds”.

But is this give-away genuine? No.


No, Tanzania’s president hasn’t banned face masks

Tanzania’s president John Pombe Magufuli has banned face masks, in what seems to be a screenshot of a tweet from his verified account, posted on Facebook on 25 May.

This is false.


‘Shoprite’ giveaway during Covid-19 outbreak a scam

A Facebook post claims Shoprite, a supermarket chain with a footprint in 15 African countries, is giving away food and gadgets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The food and gadgets on offer include “100K, 5 bags of rice/beans, 5 cartons of Turkey / Chicken, IPhone, laptops, 10 crates of eggs or other foods.” This is false.


South African politicians did not tell public to plant chickens, fish, meat to fight hunger

South African politicians have advised the public to plant chickens, meat, and fish. That’s one of the more shocking claims in a screenshot shared on Facebook on 25 May 2020.

It reads: “SA appeared on Australian TV yesterday and apparently, we’re the laughing stock of the world!!! Not surprised!” This is false.


Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a medical doctor, but not registered to practise in South Africa

A message circulating on Facebook claims Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa’s cooperative governance minister, is “not a medical Dr as her license has been erased and she was removed from the medical roll”. One version adds: “She has falsefied her title.”

Another post goes on to name other senior medical officials with the title “doctor” who are also not on the medical roll or have been “erased” from it. But she is as legit as they come.


Don’t be conned by fake ad offering jobs at Kenya Red Cross

A Facebook post claims that the Kenya Red Cross has launched an urgent programme to recruit people for humanitarian work in counties affected by heavy rains and the Covid-19 outbreak.

It says those with degrees, diplomas and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) are eligible for the jobs. But it is a scam.


No, Kenya’s first lady not giving away KSh30,000 Covid-19 grants

A Facebook post on the page “Margaret Kenyatta” – the name of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta’s wife – claims to be giving out KSh30,000 grants to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is fake.


No, 250 shop staff in Alberton, South Africa, not Covid-19 positive and ‘told to keep working’

A graphic widely shared on Facebook in South Africa since 15 May 2020 claims that 250 staff at shops in Alberton, a town just south of Johannesburg, have tested positive for Covid-19.

“If you know of a family member that went to any of the malls at Alberton this week tell them that 250 employees around those malls tested positive on Monday and they told them to continue working,” it reads. But the alarm-inducing warning is not legit.


No, Nigerian schools won’t reopen on 8 June

A post on the Facebook page Eagle TV Media Nigeria claims the country’s federal government has announced that schools will reopen on 8 June 2020.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced Monday, June 8, 2020, the official resumption date for Universities, polytechnics, and other schools,” it reads. But this is not accurate.

 

Selling illegal, but no fine for cigarette possession under South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown

Smokers caught by the South African police with black market cigarettes will be fined R1,500. That’s the claim in a Facebook post from 15 May 2020 and a WhatsApp voice note Africa Check received.
Tobacco products are outlawed under South Africa’s ongoing lockdown restrictions. Buying and selling cigarettes during the lockdown is a criminal offence. But there is no evidence that the police may issue fines to smokers caught with a box of cigarettes.


Scam! Don’t apply for South African food parcels on Facebook – phone Sassa instead

“How to apply food parcel for unemployed people in South Africa for Covid-19,” reads an 11 May 2020 Facebook post.

It tells users to comment with their location to get a food parcel application form. “If you can’t apply online just click ‘SHAR£’ we will inbox you more details.”

But should you apply for food parcels on Facebook? No, the post is a scam.


South African businessman bought airline with Bitcoin? No, it’s a scam

“The secret behind the sale of an airline in South Africa,” reads the headline of an article on a suspicious website with the URL bbc.org.sa.com.

“One of the most famous businessmen in South Africa managed to acquire an airline in South Africa in a confidential deal whose details have not been announced so far,” the undated article says.

The article was first shared on Facebook on 28 April, and has since attracted more than 1.3 million views. But it appears to be a scam.


No, South African police did not confiscate food donated to white people

South African police confiscated 200 food parcels that a church had donated to a community of white people, claims a Facebook post from 4 May 2020.

The post claims this is because no donations are allowed for whites. But the post is incorrect and misleading. This is why.

 


No, Shoprite, Checkers supermarkets not facing food shortages

The managing director of “Shoprite/Checkers” says certain food items, and washing powder, will become scarce in the next month. That’s the claim in a message circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook in May 2020.

But it is false and could cause unnecessary alarm.


No plan for Kenyan police to ‘hunt down’ mobile loan defaulters

An article shared on Facebook in Kenya claims that the police will be arresting Tala, Branch, Fuliza and Mshwari loan defaulters.

Tala and Branch are mobile-based lenders that advance loans to borrowers through mobile apps. This claim is alarmist.


Beware! Facebook page offering cash from Kenyan senator run by imposter

A post on the Facebook page “Senator Gideon Moi” claims the senator is “giving out KSh15,000 to all Kenyan citizens to help them at this difficult season”.

“In order to get this help, kindly inbox me your M-Pesa number in order to serve you as fast as possible because I understand Kenyans are in difficult positions,” the post says. Don’t do it.


Beware! Facebook promotion not by MTN

A Facebook post claims mobile telecoms company MTN is giving gifts to 20,000 people.

To win, it says, users must type “MTN” in the post’s comments section, like the page and share the post with 12 other groups. But this is a fraud, MTN says.


No high court ruling to ‘partially reopen’ Kenya’s churches

“Celebration as judge orders churches to be partially reopened,” declares the headline of an article on the Kenyan website Nipashe News.

Is this true? No – the judiciary has denied this. The article is false. So too is the name of its author, Renley Baratheon. Details here.

 

 


‘I’m very much alive.’ No, first volunteer in UK Covid-19 trial hasn’t died

“First volunteer in UK coronavirus vaccine trial has died,” claims a headline in a screenshot doing the rounds on Facebook in South Africa.

It claims she died two days after the vaccine was administered.

But she alive – and very much enjoying her tea.


No, Rachel Ruto not recruiting Facebook users to distribute hand sanitisers in Kenya

A post on the Facebook page “Rachel Ruto” claimed that “250 people are wanted for distribution of free government sanitizers”. It added: “Hit my inbox.”

Rachel Ruto is the wife of William Ruto, Kenya’s deputy president. But the post is from a fake account.


Beware imposter accounts! Senator not giving Covid-19 cash to ‘all Kenyans’

A Kenyan senator is giving away cash to help people through the “difficult situations” of the Covid-19 outbreak, claim posts on a Facebook page using the name “Senator Gideon Moi”.

Gideon Moi, a son of a former president represents Baringo county in Kenya’s senate.

The senator told us this was a fake account.


Scam! Don’t be conned by fake USAid Kenya job ad on Facebook

A Facebook page claims there is “mass recruitment” at the US Agency for International Development (USAid) in Kenya, with “3,200+ jobs available”.

The post links to a Google Form where job seekers are to apply. But there’s a catch. “All first time applicants must pay a registration fee of Ksh. 450.” Don’t do it!


KSh40 billion set aside – but not spent – for Kenya’s coronavirus response

Kenya’s treasury has spent KSh40 billion “in response to the coronavirus outbreak since the first patient was reported on March 12”, claimed an article on the front page of the Star newspaper on 23 April 2020.

“This means that over the past 40 days, the government has been spending on average Sh1 billion a day.”

But this is the amount allocated to the fight against the virus, and the paper back-peddled.


Unilever, Sasko, Tastic NOT closing, still making food during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown

A viral message warns South Africans to stock up on rice, sugar and grocers as three major food companies – Unilever, Sasko and Tastic are closing down – this as the country is in lockdown.

The message is false and alarmist, the companies said. Get all the details here.


No, seven children in Senegal weren’t killed by fake coronavirus vaccine

A 10-minute video warns Africans not to accept vaccines from China, claiming that the Chinese government wants to kill the “African population” with fake vaccines. It claims that seven children died in Senegal after being given the fake vaccine. This is a hoax.

 

 


No ‘application requirements’ yet for South Africa’s Covid-19 social relief grant – ignore false info

A message recently shared on several Facebook pages claims to explain how South Africans can apply for the new social relief of distress grant intended to help people hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown.

But the applications guidelines it gives are not accurate. Read why here.

 


No ‘cash bail’ of KSh6,000 for not wearing mask in Nairobi CBD under Kenya’s Covid-19 regulations

Does anyone caught without a mask in Nairobi’s central business district face a “cash bail” of KSh6,000? No, this is false.


Ignore fake messages about food parcels in South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown and call 0800 601 011

A “huge demand for food parcels” during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown has led the social development department to develop a “new system” to “verify individuals that qualify”, claims a Facebook post.

But this is false. Read why here.

 


Beware! World Vision Kenya not offering free water tanks

A Facebook page claims there is a joint partnership between USAid, World Vision Kenya, the United Nations and Care International to donate free water tanks to Kenyans to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

But there is a catch – you must pay a delivery fee. Don’t.

 


No, Nigeria didn’t lose N700 billion Covid-19 relief funds in fire

“We Lost N700 billion Naira COVID-19 Relief Funds Due To Fire Outbreak,” reads a headline on the website News Mirror, supposedly quoting Nigeria’s finance minister.

The ministry has said this is false and “pure mischief”.


Free data for Kenyans during coronavirus outbreak? No, it’s a scam

Kenya’s government is giving every citizen 200 GB of data to encourage them to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, claims a message doing the rounds on Facebook and WhatsApp.

But don’t fall for it – or you could end up in tears.


No, Kenya’s Safaricom not giving customers KSh2,500 in Covid-19 ‘relief’

Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom is giving customers KSh2,500 to cushion them against the burdens of the Covid-19 pandemic, claims a message circulating on Facebook.

But this is false.


Sharing info about Covid-19 not a crime in South Africa – but sharing false info is

A message doing the rounds on WhatsApp has South Africans worried about what information they can and can’t share on the platform.

It claims that new regulations mean that “apart from the Govt department no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Coronavirus and it being punishable offence. Group Admins are requested to post the above update and inform the groups.”

This message originally started doing the rounds in India in early April 2020 and has been rated as misleading. Read why.


Kenya’s 2022 general election postponed due to coronavirus? No, 2020 by-elections ‘adversely affected’

“Kenyans 2022 elections to be postponed until 2027. Government to use the election budget to fight Coronavirus,” claims a Facebook post from late March 2020.

But this is false. Get more details here.


No, Nigeria’s govt didn’t pay for US$2m Covid-19 supplies, experts sent from China

Nigeria Government Spends $2 million To import Chinese Doctors and Packages – Ambassador,” reads the headline of a video posted on Facebook on 9 April 2020.

This is not accurate. The medical supplies and team of experts from China did cost $2 million to procure and deploy. But the costs were paid by the Chinese government, not by Nigeria. Get more details here.

 


No, false news of KSh100,000 payout for ‘every Kenyan’ during Covid-19 lockdown not broadcast on Citizen TV

“Every Kenyan to receive 100K due to the lockdown on corona,” reads text on what seems to be a screenshot of a Citizen TV news broadcast, posted on Facebook.

In early April 2020 the Kenyan government imposed a ban on movement in and out of four hotspots of Covid-19 infection.

But will “every Kenyan” be given KSh100,000 during this lockdown? And did Citizen TV broadcast the news? No – read why.


Chinese medical experts sent to Nigeria tested positive for Covid-19? No, headline false

“15 Chinese team all tested positive for coronavirus today in Abuja,” reads the headline of a 10 April 2020 article on the Nigerian website Exclusive103.

The article has been shared on Facebook, where it’s been viewed nearly 400,000 times. But this is false, read why here.


No, Ramaphosa not asking foreigners to leave South Africa, no announcement of extended Covid-19 lockdown

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa “has asked all foreign nations to depart south Africa before 21 june 2020 due to increasing cases of COVID 19”, claims a 7 April 2020 post on Facebook.

It adds that the government “is going to add three months of Totally lockdown which will start on 21 June.” The South African presidency however said this post is “fake news”.

 


Coronavirus job scam! No, World Health Organization Kenya not hiring on Facebook

A Facebook post claims the World Health Organization is looking to hire community enforcement workers to help create awareness of Covid-19 in Kenya.

But on 2 April 2020 the WHO’s Kenya office tweeted a screenshot of the Facebook job ad with “FAKE NEWS” stamped on it.

In these difficult times, beware of scammers trying to cash in on the coronavirus crisis.


No coronavirus in Nigeria? Pastor’s claim false

“It’s not in Nigeria. That thing cannot survive in Nigeria. Coronavirus does not exist in Nigeria.” This is said by Nigerian pastor Kingsley Innocent says in a video posted on his YouTube channel on 15 March 2020.
But the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reported the country’s first case of coronavirus on 27 February – more than two weeks before Innocent’s video was posted on YouTube.


No, footballer Ronaldo isn’t turning his hotels into Covid-19 hospitals

Well travelled social media posts claim that “Cristiano Ronaldo is turning his chain of hotels in Portugal into hospitals to treat those with underlying conditions who have coronavirus.”

This is false.


Not all these South African coronavirus ‘lockdown procedures’ correct – use official regulations instead

A post by the South African Facebook page BKA Boere Krisis Aksie claims seven “lockdown procedures” will be enforced by local authorities during the coronavirus crisis – and that breaking the rules will result in “instant arrest”. The procedures “will not necessarily be made public”, it adds.

The post is a mixture of accurate and inaccurate information. Read why.


South African schools won’t reopen in 2020? No official announcement

Will South African schools only re-open in 2021? That’s the claim by a Facebook page named “Pretoria marking centre” and which uses South Africa’s coat of arms to suggest it’s an official government page.

But this is false. Get the details.

 


Don’t pet dogs after using hand sanitiser? As long as they don’t drink it they are safe

Please do not pet your dog or any pet after using hand sanitizer. It contains ethanol glycol that’s also found in anti-freeze that’s toxic to them!” That’s the alarming claim in a post on Facebook, which adds that this will happen if they lick the area you’ve touched them.

It’s a bit alarmist.

 


Covid-19 test doesn’t cost N1.2 million (US$3,200) in Nigeria – it’s free

Posts circulating on social media claim it costs 1.2 million naira (US$3,200) to test for Covid-19 in Nigeria.

This is false. Read why here.


No Likoni ferry ‘lockdown’ during Kenya’s coronavirus curfew

Has Kenya’s key Likoni ferry, which links Mombasa Island to the mainland in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, been shut down during the coronavirus crisis?

That’s the claim in a document shared on Facebook and signed “by management”.

The Likoni ferry service does face restrictions during Kenya’s coronavirus curfew, but it has not been shut down.


China in drastic bid to kill over 20,000?

China seeks ‘for court’s approval to kill the over 20,000 coronavirus patients to avoid further spread of the virus’. So goes a startling claim, which thankfully, is not true.

Such a case would have attracted wide global interest. It didn’t, and was first published by a junk news site.

Read our full fact-check in English here, and in the Hausa language widely spoken in northern Nigeria here.


Covid-19 in Nigeria? No, country’s first case came weeks later 

Did a strange disease’ reported in Nigeria’s Benue state in January 2020, reportedly killing 15 and sickening over 100, be the new coronavirus, as a national publication reported?

At the time of the report, there had been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria or Africa. Africa’s first case would only be confirmed on 14 February 2020, in Egypt. Nigeria’s first case was reported two weeks later.

The Nigerian authorities also ruled out that was the new coronavirus. Read details of our fact-check here.


Lagos coronavirus ‘confirmed cases’ hoax

“Lagos confirms 9 cases of Coronavirus, 4 deaths,” claims a 9 February 2020 article on the site FoxNewsNigeria.com. But the country’s first case was only confirmed on 27 February 2020.

The FoxNewsNigeria.com article is an almost word for word copy of a widely published news report on a Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria’s Kogi state. But “Lassa fever” was changed to “coronavirus”, and “Kogi” changed to “Lagos”.  Lagos state authorities also dismissed this as “absolute falsehood”.

Read our fact-check here.


Nigeria records first Covid-19 case?

Nigeria has recorded its “first case of the deadly coronavirus”, claims an article on the website Infomate Ng. Published on 1 February 2020, the article was shared on Facebook and other websites. But the country’s first case came over three weeks later.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control also issued a statement on Twitter dismissing the claim. Get the details here.

 


Cote d’Ivoire’s first new coronavirus case? No 

China’s Coronavirus hits Africa, first case tested positive in Cote d’Ivoire,” reads the headline of an article on 27 January 2020. But the headline was false. The patient was showing symptoms of coronavirus, but did not test positive for the disease. Africa’s first confirmed case would only come more than two weeks later, with Cote d’Ivoire’s first case confirmed in March 2020.

Read the full check here.


No, WHO not offering free data for coronavirus info

A post shared on Facebook in Kenya claims that the World Health Organization is offering free internet access, so people can easily find information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

It claims that users can get “4GB data per day till 30th april” if they register with their email addresses.

The post includes a link to an external website, which appears to be clickbait, and may carry possibly harmful links. More details here.


No, Citizen TV didn’t report coronavirus case at Kenya’s Meru University

“Shock hits Meru University students after a student is tested positive of coronavirus making it a second case of COVID-19,” reads what looks like a screenshot of a Facebook post by Kenya’s Citizen TV, posted on the social network on 16 March 2020.

Kenya confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on 13 March. Is the screenshot legit? On 16 March, Citizen TV posted the screenshot on Facebook with “FAKE” stamped on it.

“Another day, another fake alert! Again, kindly … avoid sharing it to stop creating panic,” the media house said.


Nigeria’s health minister studied medicine – not law

A Facebook post casts doubt on Nigeria’s response to the new coronavirus pandemic, saying Nigeria’s minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, studied law and not medicine.

The 13 March 2020 post reads: “The worse part of this Coronavirus here in Nigeria is that, The Minister of Health studied Law.” This is false.

 


No, Kenya’s KTN News didn’t report 14 University of Nairobi students infected with Covid-19

“KTN News reports that 14 students from the University of Nairobi (UON) of sciences famously known as Kenya Science have been infected with the coronavirus and quarantined at Kenyatta National Hospital,” claims an article shared on Facebook.

This is false.


 

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