Lufuno Mavhunga’s father is pleading with social-media users to allow his daughter to rest in peace. Photo: Maanda Bele.
The scourge of fake news, distributed via social-media platforms, is not only creating confusion but is also causing further trauma for families. In the latest such incident, a false report was distributed claiming that the girl who allegedly bullied a Mbilwi scholar two years ago had also committed suicide.
The Mbilwi incident made headlines in 2021 when a learner, Lufuno Mavhunga, was assaulted by a fellow learner at the school. The video of the assault went viral, causing a lot of anguish for the young girl. Lufuno went home and ended her life later.
Last Wednesday (15th), a post appeared on the Facebook page of a group calling themselves “Game News-Online”. The page purports to be a “news and media website”, but most of the content posted is either just notices or adverts. The link to the website is not functional, and the editorial content is of very poor quality and seemingly not verified by a proper news editor.
The post appears under the heading “Lufuno Mavhunga's abuser also committed suicide”. It then goes on to report that “the girl who abused her reportedly took her life this morning. It was stated that she was allegedly being tormented by visions of Lufuno's spirit.” The post caused a scurry, with other media outlets having to check their sources quickly. What became apparent soon was that this was most probably just a malicious act of compiling and spreading fake news for nefarious reasons.
When the incident happened in April 2021, the girl who had assaulted Lufuno was still a minor, and her identity was hidden from the media and the public. She was charged with assault, but the case was provisionally withdrawn because the Directorate of Public Prosecutions issued certain instructions to the investigating office to adhere to first. The girl is still facing charges of common assault. However, according to local sources, the girl is alive and well, and she is currently busy with her exams. The National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson in Limpopo, Ms Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, confirmed that the news about her death is fake.
The Facebook post, however, gained a lot of attention, and the rumours reached Lufuno Mavhungo’s family. Lufuno’s father, Mr Joseph Mavhunga, said he had been informed about the trending post by a close family relative. He said his family was still trying hard to forget about the traumatic incident. “We are trying to forget about this incident that even today still brings a lot of pain to my family. Seeing that post made us relive that painful moment. Our wounds were starting to heal. Please allow my daughter to rest in peace,” he said.
Some of the comments on social media were saying that the Mavhunga family might have sought revenge in a traditional way. “We are a Christian family, and we believe that everything happens for a reason. We don’t wish death or rejoice in someone’s death. We just want people to stop spreading lies. Their lies are taking us back to times that we wish never happened,” he added.
News - Date: 24 November 2023
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Maanda Bele, born and raised in Nzhelele Siloam, studied journalism at the Tshwane University of Technology.
He is passionate about current news and international affairs.
He worked as part of the Zoutnet team as an intern in 2017.
He is currently a freelance journalist specialising in news from the Vhembe district.
Email: [email protected]