Say what? Four claims that made us raise our eyebrows in 2021
We fact-checkers spend a reasonable amount of time observing public debate in order to identify fact-checking allegations. Our eyes and ears are set up to perk up when we hear an assertion that doesn’t sound exactly right.
Sometimes we see claims that make us pull our hair out or bang our head against a wall.
From bad stats to bizarre conspiracy theories, let’s review the claims that raised our eyebrows in 2021.
“Vaccines have never been used to control outbreaks”
This breathtaking claim was surprisingly made by a group of doctors. The Kenyan Catholic Medical Association published a consultation made a series of surprising claims about Covid-19 vaccines in March, the we checked the facts.
One of them was that “vaccines have never been used to control outbreaks”.
Anyone familiar with the history of medicine would have immediately found this claim suspicious. And rightly so: it is not correct.
Dr. Brenda Kubheka, a South African expert on clinical risk and ethics, instructed us a study from 2013 from the USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It showed how vaccines were used to make the H1N1 flu outbreak in the US from 2009 to 2010.
and Prof. Eftyxia Vardas, a clinical virologist with Lancet laboratories in South Africa, told us: “Vaccines are routinely used to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as measles, polio, smallpox, seasonal influenza and H1N1 influenza.”
“1 million African school girls pregnant during lockdown”
We watched how several Messages Sockets reported This lockdown resulted in “an increase in teenage pregnancies” across sub-Saharan Africa. A million teenagers getting pregnant would be shocking indeed, but the data behind the claim was questionable.
In August 2020 World Vision International, a Christian charity that operates in over 90 countries, estimates that âas many as a million girls Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, return to school may be blocked due to pregnancy during Covid-19 school closings.
The first red flag shot up as World Vision told us that it uses statistics from only two of the 46 countries in the region.
The first was Tanzania’s Demographic and Health Survey 2015/2016, which found that 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 19 who became pregnant had a secondary school diploma or above.
Not sure how these statistics add up to 1 million teenage pregnancies? We neither. And the organization did not answer our questions about it too.
Experts | warned that the statistics of Tanzania and the circumstances of Sierra Leone could not be used to map almost the entire continent. This is because the frequency of pregnancies varies from country to country.
With so little solid evidence To support the claim, we had no choice but to consider it unproven, arguably a polite way of saying “unlikely”.
70% of South Africa’s informal economy “in the hands of non-citizens”
We have exposed many false statistics about immigrants in South Africa.
There is none 15 million Undocumented foreigners in the country and they don’t Make up âalmost 100%â of the workforce in the catering industry. This allegation by Vuyolwethu Zungula, President of the African transformation movement, immediately rang the alarm bells.
Zungula provided us with a number of documents to support his claim but only one of them mentioned 70%. That was an interview with GG Alcock, entrepreneur and author of the book KasiNomic Revolution: The Rise of the African Informal Economies.
But both the article and Alcock said that a little study found that 70% of informal retailers, also known as spaza shops, belonged to foreigners, but not 70% of the entire informal economy.
Overall, foreigners own 20% of the informal businesses in Gauteng and make up only about 5.3% of the total working population.
Let’s hope that 2022 will bring an evidence-based and not an emotional discussion about migration.
But it doesn’t get any stranger than the ‘Spiritual White Boy Trust’
This was a wild one. What should have been a simple fact check that turned into a rabbit hole investigation a sophisticated scheme allegedly with impossible amounts of money and shadowy secret banking systems.
It all started with a few photos and a post alleging that a man named Fanie Fondse had brought charges against South African President Cyril Ramaphosa a long list of fees including fraud, extortion, theft, treason and culpable homicide.
We managed to get our hands on the 200-page affidavit that didn’t detail any of the above. However, it has imply Ramaphosa in a 1960s robbery in which R41 quadrillion was stolen, most of it apparently in the form of 100,000 tons of gold.
This is more than the combined GDP of all countries in the world, which is $ 87.74 trillion, and a little more than half the gold ever dismantled. As we went through the affidavit, we saw 624 bank accounts, all of which went back to a “Spiritual White Boy” fund.
This is the same fund that Tokyo Sexwale businessman claimed donated over R100 trillion to South Africa, which then mysteriously disappeared.
We consulted Jean le Roux, research assistant at Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab. He confirmed the bank accounts listed in the affidavit, which could not exist for the recorded data, and the bank statements with fundamental spelling errors.
When we discovered the story seemed to have started on 4chan, the same online message board that was born QAnon, we discovered that we were right in the land of conspiracy theories. If you believed this one, we have one Reptile Elite Theory to sell you and a Nigerian prince You might want to meet.