South Africa’s Thuli Madonsela says comments falsely attributed to her on Facebook are ‘derogatory racism against black people’

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Lengthy Facebook posts on how black people “use racism as an excuse for their failures” have been shared thousands of times on social media. The posts claim the words were originally posted on Facebook by South Africa’s former public standards watchdog Thuli Madonsela, who is widely admired for her role in fighting corruption. Madonsela has stressed that she didn’t write the comments, which appear to have originated on a Facebook page for her supporters. Madonsela says she doesn’t even have a Facebook account, and described the comments as “derogatory racism against black people”.

Numerous versions of the post have been circulating on Facebook, all copying and pasting the same extensive post titled “WORDS SO TRUE BY THULI MADONSELA”. We’ve archived one of the posts, which has racked up 38,000 shares since January, here.

The text goes on to claim that black people use racism as an excuse for failure and the inability to move forward is what holds them back -- unlike the apartheid Afrikaner nation which “was able to build themselves into a formidable nation”.

A screenshot taken on May 22, 2019 of the misleading post on Facebook

The end of the post claims that the words were originally published by Madonsela on Facebook on January 23, 2018.

In older versions of the post, the same text is used but instead leads with, “William Mametsa with Thuli Madonsela posted on facebook” as seen in this archived post from February 24, 2018. 

This version of the post links the comments to a William Mametsa

Facebook search of the two names reveals numerous posts by a William Mametsa on a page called “Support PROF THULI MADONSELA & #AntiCorruption & #MobilisingOfSouthAfricans”. 

One of those posts bears strong similarities to the posts which later attributed such comments to Madonsela herself, and this appears to be where the misinformation started. The original post did not claim to be quoting Madonsela -- it was just posted on a page that supports her. It is dated January 23, 2018 -- the same date given for the supposed comments by her, in posts that have gone viral more recently.

This post, published on a Facebook page supporting Madonsela, appears to be the original source of the comments

Newer versions of the post add a further line: “CLIFTON BEACH - Judged purely on what you can see with the naked eye: Who are the hate driven racists in this picture?” such as this post from January 1, 2019. 

A screenshot taken on May 23, 2019 of a misleading Facebook post

A race row erupted in Cape Town over the festive period after a private security company allegedly ordered black beachgoers to vacate the popular Clifton beach -- read this AFP report for more.

Madonsela tweeted to her more than a million followers in January that she was not on Facebook and requested that an unknown imposter to stop using her name to "spew derogatory racism against black people".

On the same day, Madonsela tweeted an opinion piece that she described as an example of her “authentic views on race and racism”. The article contradicts the misleading post credited to her, arguing that the typical response to allegations of racism in South Africa is a deeply flawed one.