Video showing police making dogs attack migrants not from Spain

Screen capture of the video shared on Facebook.
Screen capture of the video shared on Facebook.

In the space of two weeks, an old video from 1998 was posted on Facebook and shared more than 37,000 times. Some users were claiming that the video showed what happened to African migrants who attempted to cross the border into Spain. The video was actually filmed... in South Africa.

Some scenes in this video may be shocking for readers.

A group of white male officers in blue uniforms, armed and accompanied by police dogs, film the dogs attacking men. At the beginning of the video, one of the officers says that one of the dogs, called "Jerry-Lee", is going to make "his first tackle".

The video shows the officers letting the dogs loose on young black men, hitting them with batons and inciting the dogs to savagely attack them.

On November 15, a Facebook user uploaded the 6-minute video to the site, captioning it: "This is how the Spanish treat those who want to cross the border." Others then shared the video, with lots writing that it showed "Europeans" against "migrants'.

However, it doesn't take long to figure out that that the video has nothing to do with Spain, nor even with Europe. At the bottom righthand corner of the video is the date-stamp, clearly showing that the video was filmed in 1998. Our next clue: none of the people that appear in the video are speaking Spanish.

At one point in the video the footage cuts to a presenter who says, "Still to come: more attacks on the Mozambicans," before it slides into the show's theme before an ad break. 

It is part of a report by a South African TV show called "Special Assignment", on the channel SABC3. A quick search on YouTube with the words "Special Assignment" and "dog" comes up easily with the original video, which was published on YouTube in June 2014.




At the beginning of this video, the presenter explains that they are going to show a report which was made in 2000. They inform the viewer that the men who are attacked by the dogs are Mozambican migrants caught by members of a dog-handling force. One of the victims is interviewed and talks about what happened, confirming that it took place in South Africa in 1998.

After being shown the footage by the journalists, supervisors from the police and security forces in question announce that they will begin an investigation into the abuse. After the TV show broadcast these images, the four policemen in the video were arrested and sentenced to four or five years in prison.

In the comments below the video published two weeks ago on Facebook, several users did flag up that the footage had nothing to do with European police. The user who originally uploaded the video has not responded to messages from FRANCE 24.

The enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, situated on the border between Spain and Morocco, are the only land boundary between Europe and Africa. On Tuesday November 29, Amnesty International criticised [link in Spanish] police violence, the sending back of asylum-seekers and the poor living conditions in the Spanish territory.

But that is not what this footage shows. On social media, videos are often taken completely out of context and are said to show something they don't. Check out our guide on verifying content posted on social media so that you don't fall into the same trap.

READ OUR GUIDE: How do you verify photos and video on social media?