Don’t be fooled by these fake videos of xenophobic attacks in South Africa

These three pictures have nothing to do with recent xenophobic violence in South Africa
These three pictures have nothing to do with recent xenophobic violence in South Africa


Over the last few days, xenophobic violence has flared up in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa, leaving at least five people dead. The police have made over 180 arrests.


Looking into the story, the FRANCE 24 Observers team talked to a truck driver from Zimbabwe, victim of an attack in March.

We also came across several videos purporting to show recent acts of xenophobic violence in South Africa. But some of the footage circulating has nothing to do with what is going on. It is sometimes months, if not years old, and occasionally has nothing to do with South Africa at all.

A disturbing video of a man on fire – filmed months ago

One of the most striking videos to surface in the last few days shows a man in flames, supposedly a foreigner and victim of an extreme act of xenophobic violence by a group of South Africans. Just one copy of the video found on Twitter has garnered over 222,000 views (warning, graphic).

If you search for the keywords “man burnt south africa”, however, you find this article by online news outlet TimesLIVE. It explains that two men, including the one pictured, were assaulted by a mob in January this year, in Hillbrow, central Johannesburg, after trying to steal a handbag. The one pictured later died of his injuries.

These aren’t people falling from a roof in the middle of Johannesburg

Watching the following video, viewed more than 195,000 times, you could be led to believe that these are people targeted by a xenophobic arson attack, jumping from a building on fire.

Using a tool called InVid (click here to find out how), you can see that the same video was published on May 24. It depicts the fire that broke out at a commercial complex in Gujarat, India. More than 20 people died as a result.

These aren’t mass arrests to expel Nigerians from the country – it’s another old video

A video found by the NGO Africa Check shows dozens of people under arrest, on the ground, surrounded by police. The accompanying myth is that these are Nigerians, about to be deported, and that it somehow ties in with the xenophobic attacks targeting Nigerians over the last few days.

We used InVid again, which showed that the video is old. It already caused an upset when it surfaced in May 2018, and was rumoured to show a mass arrest of suspected criminals in a hotel in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg. At the time, South African police said the video was fake, and said they had no idea where it had come from.

The FRANCE 24 Observers team was not able to find the origin of this video, but the fact that it was posted more than a year ago on social media tells us it’s not linked to recent arrests.

This road was blockaded by South African truckers, but during a different strike

On Sunday, South African truck drivers began a strike in protest against the employment of foreign nationals. Videos like this one, viewed more than 25,000 times, show huge blockades:

These truckers were indeed staging a protest against foreign drivers, but this was in June 2018. You can trace the video back to this article by Independent Online.

Have you seen a video which seems suspicious? Have a look at our verification guide to know more about image verification, or contact our team on Twitter @InfoIntoxF24.