Khayelitsha residents were sent into shock by a WhatsApp circulating last week, which claimed that a young man from Site B who tested positive for coronavirus had escaped from the Khayelitsha District Hospital.
The post contains a picture of Yamkela Gwaza, and claims that he wanted to spread the virus in his area.
The post said: “andizufa ndodwa”, which loosely translates to “he can’t die alone”.
The visibly emotional Grade 12 pupil at Joe Slovo High School, however, has denied the claims and distanced himself from the post.
The 20-year-old told Vukani that when he was alerted to the post by a friend and a relative, his initial reaction had been anger. But now he lives in fear as he has received death threats.
“For the past few days I have been keeping myself indoors because I don’t know what might happen. My freedom of movement is restricted. I wish I could know the intentions of this person who did this. I don’t know whether it’s someone I know or not.
“I now live my life in fear because people are quite scared of this and yet there are people playing with our lives.
“What if I was arrested and fined for something I do not have and I did not post?”
”Mr Gwaza said he underwent a medical assessment at Khayelitsha District Hospital to prove that he did not have the disease.
He has also filed a case of defamation of character with the police.
Among those Mr Gwaza reached out to for help was the Good Party, whose representative, Thulani Sitemele, said spreading fake news was dangerous and that it was important to act quickly so that it didn’t cause more panic and damage.
He urged the public to not spread false news that could potentially put the lives of others at risk.
Mr Gwaza’s father, Nceba Mazongolo, said when he heard about the WhatsApp message, he was shocked and feared for his son’s life.
He said whoever was behind this should be arrested and pay for the emotional trauma his family has been put through.
Lingelethu police spokeswoman, Sergeant Xoliswa Nyalambisa, confirmed that a case of defamation of character has been opened at the station and has urged the public to refrain from circulating fake news or unverified information.