US President Donald Trump has been hospitalised since October 2 at Walter Reed Military Medical Center after testing positive for Covid-19. Jake Schneider, a member of Trump’s campaign team, shared a video of a group of motorcyclists apparently praying for Trump. The video went viral when it was retweeted by the president’s son, Eric. Turns out, however, that it's an old video … that was filmed in South Africa.

The video posted on October 3 by Jake Schneider garnered 92,000 likes. Eric Trump’s retweet, posted the next day, garnered more than 100,000 likes. The clip, which is about 30 seconds long, shows a group of leather-clad motorcyclists kneeling on the ground in respectful silence. 

"Wow! Check out this huge group of bikers gathered to pray for President @realDonaldTrump and the First Lady. The country is behind you, Mr. President!” reads the tweet. There is no indication of when or where the video was filmed.  


A Facebook post published at around the same time, which was shared more than 6,000 times, claims the video was filmed in front of Walter Reed Medical Center, where Trump was admitted after contracting Covid-19. 
 

What’s the story behind the video?
Even though the American president does indeed have a lot of fans within the Harley-Davidson realm, this particular footage was taken out of context … in fact, it wasn’t even filmed in the United States.

The video was posted on TikTok by @Jamesriley1688, a pro-Trump account, on October 2. In reality, it shows a group of motorcycle enthusiasts gathered in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa to protest against the killings of white farmers. The Union Buildings are the official seat of the South African Government and also house the offices of the South African President. 

Even though the video is short, there are a few visual clues that helped our team to identify where it was filmed. First of all, you can see a statue of a green canon with large wheels, which looks just like the Heavy Artillery Memorial, which is located right next to the Union Buildings. You can also see the roof of the building housing BAO Multiservices, a group of companies specialising in everything from real estate to travel, which is right in front of the square housing the monument, as shown in a tweet by a man named Peter Adams. The same information was shared by Lead Stories, an American fact-checking platform.


According to Farmer’s weekly, a South African magazine specialised in agriculture, more than 40,000 bikers converged in front of the Union Buildings to protest against attacks on white farmers. During the protest, the bikers observed several minutes of prayer.

Another video posted by the YouTube account Freewestmedia shows bikers on their knees in prayer in front of the memorial. Lots of white crosses were placed at the foot of the monument. 

After first addressing the crowd in Afrikaans, a man then prays in English: "We ask you, Father, to please protect our farmers … we pray for your support ... We pray this in the name of Jesus …”  

There is no indication in any of these videos that the bikers also prayed for Donald Trump. 


In South Africa, white farmers still control more than 70 percent of arable land – just one indication that, even though apartheid has officially ended, society remains deeply unequal. According to statistics from the South African police, 128 attacks on farmers were reported between January and June 2020. 

While this group of bikers might not be mobilised for the US president, Donald Trump can count on Bikersfortrump, a group of motorcyclists campaigning for Trump’s re-election. The group posted a message of support on their Facebook page on October 5: "Our thoughts and prayers are with President Trump and First Lady Melania as they recover from Covid-19."

Article by Hermann Boko @HermannBoko