The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has said it is gravely concerned by the discovery of a fake Facebook page that was created to intentionally mislead the general public.
The SANDF on 6 September said the page ‘South African National Defence Force’ was created on 22 April 2018 by unknown sources. “The SANDF vehemently distances itself from this scandalous and illegal Facebook Page.”
The statement said the creators of the page used images of an aircraft and a vessel similar to current SANDF equipment. “This is seen as an ill-intended ploy to mislead the general public into accepting this page as an official Facebook Page of the SANDF. The SANDF has reported this Page as a scam to the relevant Facebook administrators to have it removed.”
As of 7 September the page was still accessible.
The official SANDF Facebook page is “SA National Defence Force – @sandfcorpevents”.
“The public is warned not to engage or to be misled by the content of this bogus Facebook Page purporting to be the official Facebook Page of the SANDF,” the defence force cautioned.
The fake page published almost entirely false posts, one of the most recent of which claimed that “South Africa can easily become a nuclear state within a few hours we have the technology and with a bit of upgrade we can make ballistic missiles that can Reach anywhere in the world but for now south Africa is not interested in Nuclear weapons”. It published an accompanying photo of an Apartheid-era rocket at the South African Air Force Museum at Air Force Base Swartkop, which was intended to launch a satellite.
Other fake news posted on the page included absurd claims that South African made Bateleur military unmanned aerial vehicles and Umkhonto missiles have been delivered to Iran; that South Africa would deliver “air Buses” to clients in the Middle East and Badger vehicles to Brazil. Amongst others it showed Mirage F1s in ‘active service’, labelled Hawk jets as “MK-II Jets” made in South Africa, and misidentified a C-27J Spartan as a C-130.
The purpose behind the fake SANDF page is not yet clear.