Fake news, false accusations don’t serve justice

Rafique Foflonker, chairperson, Mitchell’s Plain Cluster Community Police Board

Respected Community,

We have every right to be upset at the current state of affairs regarding crime and violence in our communities. Living under these circumstances is stressful, worrisome and traumatising to say the least.

As if this is not enough, what pushes our people further to their breaking point is the constant social media onslaught of fake news, unverified crime reports and cases of missing persons and missing children, (sometimes) resulting from “voluntary departures” from home due to internal household conflict. Nevertheless, these voluntary departures should also be treated seriously since these individuals’ personal safety might be compromised while they are away from home and their loved ones.

These cases are distinctly different from true kidnapping/human trafficking cases and may not rise to the same danger and risk-level.

Policing and community resources are constantly distracted and redirected away from true kidnapping/human trafficking cases due the high incidence of fake news and fake claims that need to be proven or disproven.

Equally troubling is our community acting with extreme prejudice to attack and/or kill innocent people who are falsely accused of being criminals. Destroying property and taking the life of someone’s mother, father, son or daughter and perhaps the breadwinner in the family, is horrible and does not serve justice in any way. In fact, it is an even greater crime with so many more victims as a result.

Imagine you are arguing with your young child in the street and you need to force them into the car to go home, or to school, or to church. Then, someone shouts, “kidnapping”. You could be in a lot of trouble. Imagine if your child did this to spite you.

Please let common sense prevail. Don’t accept and share unverified news reports. Don’t react violently and with prejudice simply based on someone’s word. Don’t become polarised by groups of people acting on instinct. Sometimes entire groups of people can mislead themselves, and together they may take even greater risks and may make really bad “group-think” decisions.

Let’s join hands and unite in the fight against crime. Support your local community police forums to build stronger partnerships between the police and the community.

Sincerely – yours in safety.

• The Mitchell’s Plain Cluster Community Police Board includes Athlone, Lansdowne, Philippi, Grassy Park, Steenberg, Strandfontein, Mitchell’s Plain and Lentegeur SAPS precincts.