These photos (see below) of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with members of his African National Congress (ANC) party members have been making the rounds on Facebook accompanied by claims that they flouted COVID-19 social distancing rules at a birthday party on June 6, 2020.
South Africa’s COVID-19 cases currently stand at 58,568 confirmed cases, 33,252 recoveries and 1,210 deaths (check our COVID-19 tracking page for up-to-date figures). The country has been under restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On June 1, new regulations were imposed restricting public gatherings, with exceptions for a maximum of 50 people in places of worship and funerals only.
A Google reverse image search shows that the photos in question were actually posted by President Ramaphosa in a tweet on June 6, 2019, along with a birthday message to Andrew Mlangeni, who was celebrating his 94th birthday at the time.
Warmest wishes to Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe Tata Andrew Mlangeni on the occasion of his 94th birthday. Tata Mlangeni continues to play an active and immeasurable leadership role in ensuring that our movement adheres to the principles and values on which it was founded. pic.twitter.com/HUvvq5pM7h
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) June 6, 2019
Mlangeni was an anti-apartheid activist who was tried at the Rivonia Trial and served a 26-year sentence alongside Nelson Mandela on Robben Island.
The pictures in question were however from his 93rd birthday dinner on June 6 2018, as seen in this video as reported by SABC News.
This year, Ramaphosa celebrated Mlangeni’s birthday over a televised speech and also posted the same pictures from 2018 on his Twitter account. This is where the claim of violating social distancing rules emanated.
Ramaphosa has been addressing the country virtually, but the most recent he has been in public with a group of people, as can be seen here during his visit to the Western Cape on June 5, 2020. From the video, those present have masks and are observing social distancing rules.
The photos of President Ramaphosa being shared online are from an old birthday celebration making the claim, FALSE.