SA’s health ministry rubbished claims on Monday that Dr Zweli Mkhize — at the forefront of the country’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic — owned a company that manufactured personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We would like to categorically state that minister Mkhize does not own a PPE manufacturing company nor is he involved in any way in the manufacturing of PPE,” his spokesperson Dr Lwazi Manzi said in a statement.
“In anticipation of any further emergence of fake news, we also categorically state that nobody in minister Mkhize’s family is in the business of manufacturing, selling or distribution of PPE.”
Manzi said the claim was being shared on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.
“Creating or advancing fake news remains an offence under the National State of Disaster and the department of health will not hesitate to take action against those found to be creating or perpetuating fake news,” she added.
“This kind of content is damaging to the reputation of honest, hardworking members of the executive. It distracts away from and undermines the important work of fighting the coronavirus.”
Manzi said those behind the posts and others sharing them should “immediately remove” them and apologise to Mkhize and the public for spreading fake news.
“We implore members of the public to be circumspect in their engagement with social media content and not find themselves becoming agents of fake news and misinformation.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and the best way to fight it is by arming ourselves with facts and sound knowledge that empowers us to defeat the coronavirus,” Manzi said.