This video shows a shopping centre robbery in Chile, not gunmen in South Africa

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A video showing a shootout in the street by armed robbers has been shared on Twitter with the claim that it showed a heist filmed in South Africa. This is false: the incident happened in Chile when an armed gang robbed a shopping centre on January 29, 2023, leading to a shootout with police.

“Live Footage: South African heist,” reads a tweet published on March 7, 2023, and which has been viewed more than 260,000 times.

A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on March 8, 2023

In the video accompanying the tweet, which is filmed from a window, a gang of armed robbers in the street below unleashes a volley of gunshots while trying to pack large and heavy bags into their getaway cars. One of the shooters falls to the ground, apparently wounded, and is momentarily deserted by his fleeing accomplices who return a few seconds later to retrieve him.

Replies to the tweet were mixed, with some users noting that the vehicles in the 90-second clip were left-hand drive cars; in South Africa, the steering is on the right.

The Put South Africa First movement (PSAF) — a group known to take vigilante action against foreign nationals — disputed the claim in a tweet, but blamed foreigners for the misinformed post.

“The are no left hand drive cars, foreigners are on a mission to make South Africa look like it’s a war zone,” reads the tweet.

A screenshot of the tweet by Put South Africa First

The account also tagged the original poster based in Nigeria, prompting replies that added to already strained tensions between citizens from both countries.

A screenshot of some of the replies to the Put South Africa First tweet

In 2019, AFP Fact Check debunked several claims (including here and here) that exploited these divisions amid a string of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The country has one of the world’s highest murder rates. Crime statistics released in February 2023 showed that were an average of 82 murders a day between October and December 2022.

The claim that this scene took place in South Africa, however, is false.

Chile robbery

A reverse image search of the video using the verification tool InVID-WeVerify led to numerous articles about a robbery in Chile.

According to reports here and here, police responded to a shooting incident at the Mall Plaza Egaña shopping centre in Santiago, Chile on January 29, 2023. This followed the robbery of a technology store in the complex by a group assailants dressed in white coveralls, who exchanged fire with a police officer who tried to stop them.

AFP Fact Check confirmed the location by using the street view tool on Google Maps and matching several clues from the video, such as the zebra crossing at the entrance of the mall, a reddish brick island in the middle of the street ahead, as well as the traffic bollards lined up along the pavement.

Screenshots taken from the video and Google Maps were used to confirm the Mall Plaza Egaña as the location of the shooting
Screenshot from Google Maps showing a different angle of the street where the heist took place outside Mall Plaza Egaña