“We just want people to share the correct information — that will save lives.”
This is according to Musawenkosi Buthelezi, spokesperson for the ANC Youth League’s Gauteng Crisis Committee, which is calling for the “immediate arrest” of youth league compatriots who shared false information on Covid-19.
In posters being shared widely on social media, the ANCYL’s greater Tshwane region poster claims — falsely — that there were “Covid-19 fighting pH foods”, including bananas, lemons, avocado, pineapple watercress, pineapple and garlic.
The group claims that watercress has a 22.7pH level and avocado 15.6pH. This is despite the scientific pH scale ranging from 0 to 14.
Again falsely, the group says: “All we have to do to eliminate the virus is to consume more alkaline foods above the acidity levels of the virus.”
It also falsely claims that “steaming” two or three times a day — using eucalyptus oil, Vicks and “hot stones” — makes the virus “paralysed under extreme heat”.
Ironically, the poster states: “Let’s stop circulating fake news and conspiracy theories and save lives.”
Fact-checking site Africa Check has debunked the region’s claims.
In response, the ANCYL Gauteng Crisis Committee said in a statement that the Tshwane group — which Buthelezi said was “illegitimate” — had “peddled fake news through posters which incorrectly alleged that alkaline foods and steaming cure Covid-19″.
“In reality, the SARS-CoV-2 virus which leads to Covid-19, does not have a pH level and therefore, as explained by Africa Check, ‘One cannot affect the pH of the body by consuming alkaline foods’,” the crisis committee said.
It added that the false claims — particularly around the stated pH levels which are above the scientific limits — were “a fact that would not even escape the minds of children, whose age they behave, that nothing has a pH level above 14″.
“Therefore, in the interests of the organisation and society at large, and in line with the Disaster Management Act, we call upon the immediate arrest of the entire illegitimate REC [regional executive committee] of the ANCYL in Tshwane for peddling fake news and putting the lives of young people in danger,” the crisis committee statement read.
Under the Disaster Management Act, publishing fake news linked to the coronavirus is illegal, and police minister Bheki Cele said during an interview with eNCA on Tuesday night that the police would be seeking to criminally charge those who do it. In fact, he said, some arrests had been made but he didn’t have an exact figure.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)