Did Estcourt Inmates Go On Hunger Strike Over Jacob Zuma’s Arrest?

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Under the hashtag #FreeJacobZuma, this tweet claims that prisoners at Estcourt prison went on a hunger strike to demand the release of former South Africa president, Jacob Zuma. 

With the ongoing protests in South Africa, we sought to check the authenticity of these claims.

Background

Violence spread across different parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, as pro-Zuma supporters demanded his release. Zuma was checked into Estcourt Correctional Centre on July 7, 2021. He was admitted for contempt of court and is expected to serve a  15-month jail term. Reports state that, so far, at least 10 people have been killed in this unrest.

Verification

First, results from a reverse image search show that this image of prisoners was first published by Sunday Times, on August 14, 2011. A caption to this photo says it was taken back in 2008, during a crackdown at SunCity prison, South Africa. (See screengrab below).

This image was later featured on the Sunday Times in an article published on July 4, 2021. Still, in this publication, the caption attributes this photo to Sun City prison. 

In addition, claims that prisoners from the Estcourt Correctional facility went on a hunger strike have widely been dismissed. Speaking to the eNCA, Singabakho Nxumalo, the spokesperson to the Department of Correctional Services maintained that these are false claims. 

In a statement, Nxumalo said;

“all reports have been very clear, there are no hunger strikes. Hence then, we are appealing, stop causing panic unnecessarily, because you are simply spreading lies.”

Another report by South Africa’s Government News Agency flagged these claims as false. In a statement from the Department of Correctional Services, there was no disruption of services at the Estcourt prison. (See screengrab below)

Verdict

Claims that prisoners in Estcourt Correctional Centre went on a hunger strike are FALSE.

This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.

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Nyakerario Omari

Nyakerario J. Omari is a Kenyan writer and journalist with a passion for in-depth stories told through documentaries. She has an interest in reporting matters concerning health, crime and human rights.