A satire website published a story reporting that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was in hospital after being shot, and she is not amused.
“I would never stand in the way of creative output and I understand that the website is satire-based. But for me, it must be taken into account that not everyone in South Africa may understand what ‘satire’ really means. I personally didn’t find it funny,” she says.
In a story carrying the headline “Thuli Madonsela shot nine times outside her home” on www.satirenews.co.za, the site claimed the public protector had been gunned down by a bodyguard who was later found dead near the scene.
The report said police obtained CCTV footage that ostensibly depicted the bodyguard kneeling down and kissing Madonsela’s forehead.
“[He] then took off only to be found dead later with a gunshot wound on the head [sic],” the website detailed.
It was apparently unclear if he committed suicide or if he was assassinated “to kill the evidence”.
Madonsela said the story was also shared on WhatsApp and Twitter, leading to some people who saw it believing it to be true.
“Others were left traumatised. For me, it wasn’t always discernible that it was just a hoax.”
Last week the Sunday Times reported that Madonsela had been made aware of an attempt on her life, which had been planned to look like a car accident.
The alleged hit was supposedly funded to the tune of R740 000 by a Western Cape gangster and Madonsela was made aware of this by a trusted informant.
She told the police’s VIP Protection Unit and her security detail was strengthened while the allegations of conspiracy to commit murder were investigated.
Madonsela told the newspaper she was shocked and traumatised and didn’t know where the plot came from but thought it was probably revenge.
The public protector had further altered her personal schedule, ceasing to jog alone in the mornings and had taken care to monitor her security at all times.
The DA has since called for an urgent probe into the death threat.