Paternity disputes are common in South African courts ( AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU)

The South African government does not plan to offer free DNA testing from June 2022

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Multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter in South Africa claim that the government will be offering free DNA tests in state clinics and hospitals from June 2022. But the claim is false: the national health department confirmed the rumours are a hoax.

“DNA tests will be done freely at government clinics and hospitals as of June 2022,” reads a Facebook post published on January 24, 2022, with more than 3,000 shares.

A screenshot of the false post, taken on January 31, 2022

A similar tweet in South Africa on the same day was retweeted more than 2,700 times and liked more than 10,000 times.

After going viral locally, the claim spread to Nigeria, as this debunk by The Cable newspaper showed, prompting a denial from the West African country’s health officials.

Paternity in South Africa

Paternity disputes in South African courts (here and here) are usually related to child support payments, custody disputes or inheritance payouts. 

Africa Check debunked a similar claim in 2020 when a post, addressing men, claimed South African pharmacy chain Clicks was offering a DNA test for 900 rand ($58), with results in 24 hours. 

But this type of testing costs more than that in the country – the cheapest private test AFP Fact Check could find with a search on Google was 1,195 rand ($77) per person and 2,390 rand ($154) for paternity tests specifically. 

False rumours

“Please note that this is fake news, we are not aware of this, even the National Laboratory is not aware of this rumour,” South African health department spokesman Foster Mohale told AFP Fact Check.

Mohale referred to South Africa’s National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), which offers paternity testing across the country.

The laboratory in Gauteng province told AFP Fact Check that each DNA test costs 750 rand ($49) per person or 2,250 rand for both parents and one child. The NHLS also said there is currently a backlog, meaning it would take approximately three months to receive results.

Some private laboratories advertise results in five to seven working days.