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Home > Secteur-English > General > Xenophobia in South Africa: Beware of false images

Xenophobia in South Africa: Beware of false images

The city of Durban in South Africa is the theater since early April violent clashes between South Africans and foreigners, mostly immigrants from other African countries. A crisis that unleashed the social networks on which we find a multitude of false images that still put oil on the fire. Caution ...

The "burning man", a photo is from 2008 <img2| >

This is one of the most posted on social networks photos, including Twitter, to illustrate the violence against immigrants. It shows a man on all fours, on fire, and police rushing toward him. Many users resent this "shocking" or "degrading" and associate the violence that shook Durban.
A search on Google images quickly can see that this picture has certainly been taken in South Africa, during riots targeting foreigners. But it was in 2008, in Johannesburg. The man, who died of his wounds, was called Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave and was a Mozambican immigrant. The photo of the fire body had circulated widely at the time, earning him the nickname "burning man".

This image is often misused. By copying its URL on Google images, we see that it was published seven years by hundreds of amateur sites and blogs, joining her all a different story. It is used here by a Senegalese blog illustration of "self-immolation of a shoemaker," on this site to discuss the case of 13 people burned alive in May 2014 in the Central, and other returners the story of Mohamed Bouazizi, whose gesture is considered the origin of the "Arab Spring"

Several comments also ensure that the police rushing to the man are preparing to do violence. In fact, Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave was rescued by police, who extinguished the flames.

Stricken children and burned alive in Durban ? False.

Writing Observers also received this morning two particularly shocking videos. We see, surrounded by a crowd of teenagers, tied together and tires, make fuel spray by a young man. They are struck and burned alive. These videos have also been posted on several occasions, including last weekend, Twitter and YouTube - site that has systematically abolished the grounds that they "do not meet YouTube’s policy on shocking and degrading content." We do not publish a blurred screen capture.

A scarred face and blood ? The consequences of a violent strike in Zimbabwe.

Another image regularly posted and presented as a consequence of the current violence, that of a man with his face covered in blood, carrying two huge tracks of machetes on the skull and face. A quick search on Google images shows that this picture was taken during a strike in a post office in Zimbabwe in September 2014.

Blurred picture of the seriously injured man lorts a strike in Zimbabwe.

The current violence was triggered following a statement by the King of the Zulus, the highest traditional authority of the country, prompting foreign "to their luggage and go home." Foreigners are often targeted in South Africa in January, hundreds of shops owned by immigrants were looted and vandalized in Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, killing six people. It is also in Soweto that serious violence against foreigners had 62 dead, including Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave and hundreds injured in 2008.


These images of violence are false, but the atrocities have been committed but these days : a Congolese was burnt alive and at least four other people were killed.

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