FACT CHECK: Did South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Order All Foreigners To Vacate The Country By June 21 Due To COVID-19?
A viral Facebook post claims South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked all foreigners to leave the country by June 21 in response to the spread of COVID-19.
South African officials have debunked the claim. The country will start reopening on May 1.
The South African government instituted a three-week nationwide lockdown beginning on March 27 and later extended it through April 30 in response to the coronavirus outbreak, requiring civilians not to leave their homes except for reasons deemed essential.
The Facebook post alleges that Ramaphosa announced a significant extension to the lockdown, as well as specific measures concerning foreign nationals in the country.
“The government of SOUTH AFRICA is going to add three months of Totally lockdown which will start on 21 June , And president is asking all foreigners to vacate so that the country can left with its only citizens who will be given free food , water , electricity and free rent,” reads the post. “And the president also add that if the foreigners fail to vacate the country they will face great consequences since they will face military soldiers who will be moving door to door to ensure that the country is left with its only citizens.”
These claims are false, however. There is no evidence that Ramaphosa has asked foreign nationals to vacate the country. Nor that the lockdown is now set to last until June 21. (RELATED: Is The British Government Sending People Fines Via Text For Violating Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Rules?)
No mention of foreign nationals being asked to leave South Africa appears on the South African government’s website, and an internet search yielded no results, except for other media outlets debunking the claim. The country is set to begin gradually reopening May 1, according to Reuters.
Jackson Mthembu, the minister in the presidency, addressed similar rumors via Twitter on April 7.
FAKENEWS ALERT !!!President @CyrilRamaphosa has NOT asked foreign nationals to leave South Africa . The President has NOT said the #lockdown will be extended by the “ government of South Africa “ by three months , starting on 21 June . “ . The WhatsApp post below is fake news . pic.twitter.com/cP1WlahlKj
— Minister Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) April 7, 2020
“FAKENEWS ALERT !!! President @CyrilRamaphosa has NOT asked foreign nationals to leave South Africa,” Mthembu tweeted. “President has NOT said the #lockdown will be extended by the ‘ government of South Africa ‘ by three months , starting on 21 June .'”
At press time, South Africa has more than 5,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 100 deaths, per Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.