Police slam 'reckless' claim that baby was found abandoned in PE mall

Eastern Cape police slammed a fake news post on Twitter that a baby had been found abandoned in a PE mall.
Eastern Cape police slammed a fake news post on Twitter that a baby had been found abandoned in a PE mall.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Eastern Cape police on Sunday moved to quash claims that a toddler had been found abandoned at the Greenacres Shopping Mall in Port Elizabeth.

The claim gained traction on Saturday night when a Twitter user posted a snapshot of a WhatsApp group conversation where a woman claimed the toddler had been found in a baby car chair at the mall. The smiling toddler had his hand raised to his mouth.

The user called on anyone with information on the child’s parents to call police.

By Sunday afternoon, the post had gone viral, with some users asking how they could adopt the child should the biological parents not be found.

Others, however, were able to suss out that there were some holes in the story. As it turned out, the whole saga was completely fake.

Quashing the rumours, police spokesperson Capt Sandra Janse van Rensburg said: “Police confirm that there were no such reports, nor did anyone drop off any child. Social media is a helpful medium for both the community and the police.

“However the hoaxes, fake news and the dissemination of false information are causing unnecessary panic among our communities while such claims also waste the police’s valuable time and resources.”

She added that sharing misinformation was “reckless, irresponsible and unacceptable”.

“Police urge social media users to verify and confirm such information with them before posting and circulating it, thus avoiding the misinformation from going viral,” she said.

Janse van Rensburg called on all those who had published, seen or circulated the post to ignore it and to refrain from further sharing or disseminating it.

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE did a reverse image search for the picture being circulated of the alleged abandoned child.

The image used turned out to be taken from an international advertisement for car seats with the child being used as a model for the seats. It dates back to early 2019.

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