The police in Gauteng have cautioned the public against “the incessant peddling” of fake news about human trafficking and the kidnapping of women and children.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the distribution of these “malicious untruths” continues “even after the office of the national commissioner” of the police, Khehla Sitole, “in the past two weeks issued a similar warning while putting matters into perspective”.

“A video clip has surfaced on various social media platforms where an unknown man frantically claims to have witnessed the kidnapping of a woman at gunpoint at the Boulders shopping centre in Midrand,” Peters said.

Watch the video below:

Peters said police from Midrand on Tuesday morning at around 11.15 am responded to an alleged robbery of a woman at the Boulders shopping centre.

Peters said the woman was robbed at gunpoint, with the suspects getting away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that two unknown suspects travelling in an SUV may have followed the woman from a bank where she had reportedly withdrawn a large amount of money. The suspects are said to have accosted the victim in the basement parking at the shopping centre and demanded money from her at gunpoint. The suspects made off with the victim’s handbag and other valuables. Both the woman and a six-year-old child who was with her were uninjured and are safe.

“In another fake story recorded on a voice note in Afrikaans, a woman calling herself ‘Jeanie from NCIS’ claims that a child was kidnapped at a Pick ‘n Pay store in Brits and that similar incidents happened in Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. The woman goes on to substantiate her lies by further claiming that police have confirmed to her that these incidents of kidnappings are on the increase.

“Police can confirm that this too, is nothing but just a perpetuation of this trending act of malice that only seeks to sow panic and pandemonium amongst communities.

“In some instances that are not necessarily from social media, some members of the public have taken to mainstream media with allegations of human trafficking and kidnapping, claiming to know victims or to have witnessed incidents personally. However, when police reach out to determine specific cases, incidents or police stations for purposes of investigation, no such detail can be provided by the same people,” Peters said.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela has reminded the public that no good can come from the spreading of fake news.

“The anonymity that often surrounds the identity of the creators or sources of fake news, confirms that the intention can only be hostile, seeking to unsettle community-police relations that the SAPS is working so hard to build and restore,” said Mawela.

Peters said the police in Gauteng will continue to give priority attention to genuine cases of human trafficking, kidnappings, as well as crimes committed against women, children, and other vulnerable persons.

“Parents are urged to remain vigilant and prioritise the safety of their children at all times and to always be aware of the children’s whereabouts. Children should not be left unattended as this could create an opportunity for criminals to commit crime,” Peters said.

Peters said members of the public are encouraged to report crime and, or suspicious activities by contacting their nearest police station or calling the SAPS crime stop number 08600 10111. Information may also be conveyed to the police on the MySAPS App that can be downloaded on any smartphone.

Meanwhile, #humantraffickingawareness was trending on Twitter on Wednesday.

This as an organisation called Action for Change is expected to demonstrate at the Nigerian Embassy on Wednesday.

The cellphone number provided in the tweet calling for South Africans to take part in the demonstration went unanswered.

Here are some of the tweets shared under the #humantraffickingawareness

-The Citizen

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