On Thursday afternoon my open plan office erupted into a subdued panic caused by an e-mail that was doing the rounds. I could track its progress through my office just by watching who got up and went to join the steadily growing gaggle of people discussing the topic. I finally managed to snag a copy and this is what I received;
NEWS 24 by Vivian Pillay
Earlier we had received numerous calls regarding child abduction in the Phoenix/Verulam/Inanda.
Apparently there was a truck that was hijacked in Phoenix. And this truck was carrying a bunch of CANNIBALS!
They have eaten the driver, and a few children already, including a child from Brookdale.
Some say that they have fangs, claws and monkey-like features.
We have confirmed with the Rising Sun, and they have confired that there are in fact cannibals in the area.A 16 year old from a local school nearby Mandela Park described what she had saw she is still undergoing shock treatment.
Attached is a sketch of her brutal findings.
PLEASE TREAT THIS IN GOOD LIGHT, AND BE CAREFUL.
Once the fit of laughter had died down I tried to inject a little calm into my office. One of my co-workers was interested in my opinion and so I gave it. This is OBVIOUSLY not a true story! Anybody with a few minutes and an intact critical thinking apparatus can confirm that this was never published on NEWS24 (a large South African on line news service). A very quick google search shows that this story has never been published on the news service. Nor has any other reporting the alleged truck load of cannibals. I must say, I am not in the least bit surprised that this has never been published, even if the story was true, it would be a terrible piece of journalism and no editor in his right mind would publish it. There is no information, no verifiable names and places, no interview with the alleged witness.
My biggest question is why would you have a truck load of cannibals? I mean really! Where are they being taken and what are they going to be used for? One of my colleagues suggested that “If they can smuggle cannabis from Haiti to Johannesburg, why not cannibals?”. That is just flawed thinking, there is a market for cannabis! Human trafficking certainly does happen on a large scale in this country, but that is mainly trafficking of women and children for the sex trade. What kind of slave would a cannibal make?
Secondly, cannibals are humans. People like you and me. They aren’t some kind of weird monkey-human hybrid with “fangs, claws and monkey-like features”.
Now, about the incredibly lifelike sketch allegedly drawn by the traumatised girl; that image is taken directly from a 1980’s movie called Cannibal Holocaust. It’s not the representation of some rural Kwa Zulu Natal riverway, it’s a screenshot from a 30 year old horror movie.
I am happy to report that on Monday morning when I opened my office e-mail I saw that one of my colleagues had taken the time to circulate the following letter released by a security company based in the Phoenix area;
I have received a directive from Management to send out an urgent e-mail to our clients & the Public regarding the issue of Cannibals & Cannibalism in Verulam & Phoenix. Our Control Center has been inundated with calls & e-mails from scared residents over the past few days and despite attending to every call we have found no evidence of any cannibals in both areas.
Although several reports have been received about such sightings, Officers at Reaction Unit South Africa has found no such person who could confirm this. Regarding the incident in Phoenix of abduction, escaping of a truck load of transported cannibals & eating of human flesh we cannot confirm or deny this as well, but wish to clarify that RUSA has no knowledge of any such happenings.
Reaction Unit South Africa will however attend to any callouts regarding this matter to ensure the safety of our clients & Public.
Any further enquiries regarding this matter can be e-mailed to our Director, (name and e-mail address removed), who will respond timeously.
Well done Melanie for using your head!
Unfortunately, when a seemingly related story was broadcast on a local radio station, most of my colleagues seemed to miss the message of the news story, they were refuting the cannibal story, yet my colleagues remembered it as confirmation of the cannibals being on the loose and eating children. Here is the cannibal article as presented by East Coast Radio;
Cannibal rumours untrue
21 October 2009 – 09:31
By Lauren Holley
If you’ve been wondering about the alleged cannibals in the Inanda area, we’ve managed to get the real story for you after being inundated with calls and e-mails.
The police’s Vincent Mdunge says there is no truth to the story which’s spread at both Amaoti and Phoenix.
He says the urban legend started when hundreds of people stormed the Amaoti Police Station at Inanda on Sunday night.
He says they thought the police had detained two cannibals, but Mdunge says this is complete nonsense.
“It would appear this whole thing emanated from somebody who was running around in the local community with a loudhailer, making announcements that the police have captured the cannibal and they wanted to be released in their custody and there was no such cannibal that existed; there were no such cannibal that was arrested by the police.”
Mdunge says six suspects have been arrested for public violence after the attack on the police station.
He believes the rumour was possibly started to shift the police’s focus from recent tensions between two ethnic groups in the area. But he’s warned that this isn’t going to work.
“I must assure you, it’s not going to be as easy. We are going to be focused; we are going to hit very hard.”
Well, that just about clears it up then. There are no cannibals and the e-mail claiming that there are is a load of badly written, thumb-sucked garbage.