DoH disputes PPE claims made against health minister
Durban - The Department of Health (DoH) has rubbished claims that minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and his family were involved in the manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE), describing the allegations as fake news.
The ministry, led by spokesperson Dr Lwazi Manzi, also warned the public that spreading fake news was a criminal offence under the National State of Disaster Act.
In a statement issued to the media yesterday, the department said it was aware of a message that appeared on several social media platforms claiming Mkhize owned a PPE manufacturing company.
Manzi said this message appeared on various people’s Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp threads.
According to a source within the ministry, the originator of the message stems from a fake Facebook account, under the name Umhlaba Wokhokho.
On that profile, a status update reads: “So Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health, has his own company in KZN manufacturing PPE.”
Thereafter, the same allegations continued to be made on other social media platforms.
“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. 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 distributing PPE,” Manzi said.
She said she hoped the ministry’s statement clarified the matter, adding that all those who created or shared the content should remove it from their platforms and issue an apology to the minister and the public for promoting fake news.
“Creating or advancing fake news remains an offence under the National State of Disaster, and the Department of Health has warned that it would not hesitate to take action against those found to be creating or perpetuating 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,” Manzi said.