DA cracks down on fake news peddlers

Issued by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP – DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
17 Dec 2023 in News

The DA is pursuing legal action against a Richards Bay businessman, Sheldon Cramer, who shamelessly propagated fake and manipulated content across social media platforms. Operating under the TikTok handle @bobbygreenhash, Cramer disseminated a fabricated audio clip claiming to feature DA MP Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach alleging that Federal leader John Steenhuisen had leveraged the Western Cape as collateral for a multimillion-Rand loan from the Bezos Foundation in America.

The malicious voicenote also included a direct threat against Steenhuisen.

Cramer, unfased by the consequences of his deceit, went further to assert that NASA planes circling Cape Town were evidence of this alleged transaction, urging people to act before it was too late. He brazenly called on supporters to “repost this video” to spread the unfounded message.

While TikTok promptly removed the video, and Cramer seemingly deleted it from his Facebook page, such reactive measures are akin to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. The video persists on various social media platforms and has circulated through WhatsApp groups.

The DA, guided by legal counsel, has initiated legal proceedings against Cramer under sections of the Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020, targeting his role in making, publishing, and disseminating threatening and defamatory statements concerning the DA, Mr. Steenhuisen, and Ms. Breytenbach.

The DA emphasises that the use of social media, AI, and electronic systems to fabricate and publish fraudulent, defamatory content cannot be dismissed as harmless. Recognising the tangible consequences of such actions, the DA insists that the violation of the Cybercrimes Act must be met with substantial real-world consequences.

The DA issues a resolute warning that it will not hesitate to pursue legal action against any individual, group, or political party found employing these malicious tools to propagate fake, defamatory, or fraudulent content.

It preys on the most basic fears of our society, it is both reckless and dangerous. This very poorly faked nonsense nevertheless influences real people and feeds into a deeply riven society already on edge and suffering severe consequences of bad government. It has real world consequences, and as such, the DA believes that the violation of the Cybercrimes Act should also have real world consequences.

In the face of the evolving landscape of disinformation, and on the eve of a seminal election, the party stands prepared to employ all available legal means to hold accountable those who seek to undermine the principles of transparency and honesty in our democratic society. We call on all South Africans to join us in this fight against the rise of deep fake content.