South Africa


South Africa’s weekend trend report 3 – 5 July, 2020

South Africa’s weekend trend report 3 – 5 July, 2020
The Order of Ikhamanga in Silver is bestowed to actress Mary Twala by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 2019 National Orders Awards on April 25, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu)

This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations from 3 to 5 July 2020. Global trends impacting on South Africa are also included.

Iconic Mary Twala

The passing of South African legendary actress, Mary Twala, dominated social media conversations. Many, including government officials and celebrities, shared messages of condolences.

On Saturday President @CyrilRamaphosa tweeted: “Like millions of South Africans, I am saddened by the passing of a great icon of our nation’s creative community; someone who was a household name and face to all of us and brought home the joys, the struggles and the humour under pressure that characterises our national life.” This tweet gained traction, with 2,800 retweets and 25,600 likes. 

Minister of Transport @MbalulaFikile shared photographs of Twala receiving an award from President Cyril Ramaphosa: “A legend, South Africa greatest treasure & The Order of Ikhamanga in SILVER holder for excellent contribution to the performing arts & awareness on women’s health issues. Mme Mary Twala’s departure makes us poorer. Condolences to @somizi & the entire family. A giant has fallen.” This generated 1,000 retweets and 10,400 likes. 


Entertainment channel @Mzansimagic tweeted: “The legendary Mama Mary Twala made the impossible possible and inspired many. You may have left the world but your work will live forever. Lala Ngoxolo. #RIPMaryTwala”. This received 429 retweets and 3,800 likes.

Later in the day artist @Lady_Zamar tweeted, “RIP to a South African actor of note… one of the most vibrant spirits who made herself memorable in her life and all she chose to share with us… she was a gift to the world. Deepest condolences to @somizi and your whole family… Mama Mary Twala would never be forgotten.”

Many fans paid tribute by sharing some of their favourite Mary Twala moments. Twitter user @ThatoTshepiso1 shared a video depicting Mary Twala dancing with Lillian Dube, in a tweet that read, “She’ll remain my favourite❤ may your soul rest in peace mama Twala. #RIPMaryTwala”. This received 203 retweets and 838 likes. 

@SothoBae shared photographs of Mary Twala in a post: “A legend has fallen… May your soul rest in peace. #RIPMaryTwala”. This generated 426 retweets and 3,400 likes. 

Government inaction 

Last week, businessman Vusi Thembekwayo posted a scathing video on Facebook criticising the government for the impact of the lockdown. The video was later tweeted by @HermanMashaba, and was liked almost 16,000 times. Over the weekend @Vusithembekwayo urged all to “pray… And when you’re finished praying, DO SOMETHING”. The tweet was liked almost 15,000 times and was retweeted over 4,500 times by Monday morning. 

@kgadiRsa expressed support – he joined Thembekwayo in saying “F! you” to the politicians. This tweet was liked over 1,200 times and was retweeted 340 times. @BlessingsRamoba’s tweet, which received almost 1,000 likes and 315 retweets, said South Africans needed a corruption vaccine to treat ANC Corruption, noting: “The ANC’s corruption virus is killing the nation. Our people have waited for 26 years for economic freedom, but it’s not coming.”

@LoneStar_Skye shared a similar sentiment, saying the ANC prioritised holding onto power and looting over improving the lives of black South Africans. This tweet was liked over 300 times. 

Number one?

Many Twitter users discussed the growing number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa over the weekend. @eNCA reported that South Africa had reached almost 190 000 confirmed cases on Saturday, following the highest number of daily confirmed cases – 10,853. 

In response, @AdvoBarryRoux grimly noted that “South Africa is going to be number 1 with coronavirus cases pretty soon”. Twitter users agreed, liking the tweet over 2,500 times and retweeting it 350 times. 

@NkosinatiMagwa shared a more optimistic view in a tweet that was liked over 1,600 times, “Wear Your Masks Please and keep safe. One day we will wake up with BREAKING NEWS that Covid-19 is no more…”

Making money

Ways of making money was a popular topic on Twitter over the weekend. Many posts promoted small businesses. @Tsheg0_ shared details of how to order eggs from their business, and @nikisgingerbeer shared a similar post. Both posts received over 100 likes. 

@iamkoshiek shared an informative thread on the SA residential property market in the current economic climate, which included advice on property prices and financing options. The thread was liked over 6,000 times and retweeted almost 3,500 times. 

A few WhatsApp stokvels gained momentum over the weekend, including this example of an invitation to join, posted by @dineonestaSA. The tweet received 83 likes, with many replies calling it a scam. @AdvoBarryRoux tweeted a “good morning” post mentioning the phenomenon, which was liked over 2,000 times. He noted that people who got scammed by WhatsApp stokvels deserved it because they were forewarned.

Race and gender 

Black women took to Twitter to question the tendency to “humble” black women. @Sundanesebih asked: “Why does the world always try and humble black women?” The tweet received over 27,600 retweets, 105,900 likes and 484 comments, most echoing her sentiment. 

@Fanm_Anbusye then tweeted: “I’m going to be very real here and it might be seen as controversial but idc. It is not about jealousy or intimidation, it is about maintaining a hierarchy. It is a social strategy to keep people who they see as beneath them to also see themselves as the bottom.” This response received 946 likes and 92 retweets. 

@Blackmedusamoon highlighted inconsistencies: “When a Black woman spoils her man, she is praised. When a Black woman gets spoiled, she gets backlash. When a Black woman spoils herself, Black people, including Black women, discredit her. This obsession with ‘humbling’ Black women needs to stop. ‘Our place’ is always to benefit someone else, not ourselves.” The tweet received over 14,800 retweets, 51,900 likes and 110 comments. 

@Jas  commented: “And what they REALLY mean by stay modest & humble is ‘stay down here at my level. Don’t do better than me. I don’t think luxury or finer things are possible for me so they ain’t for you!’”.

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, shared a video post of her late father speaking on black slavery and racial injustice in America. She posted, “Brilliant King. Powerful King. This is my father at his most truth-telling, yet love-centred, self. Watch and share.” The video received 13.2 million views and 25,500 likes.

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 10: Martin Luther King Speaking on September 10, 1963 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty images)

Still missing

Several missing persons posts were shared widely over the weekend. Last week Twitter user @Zuki_Lamani had shared a poster of a “Pink Ladies” missing person alert – it gained traction over the weekend: “Hey guys this young girl from Simon’s Town in Cape Town has been missing since the 28 of June. Please RT for awareness 🙏🏾”. The tweet generated 4,000 retweets and 705 likes. 

@AdvoBarryRoux shared a photograph of a man in this tweet: “Missing Person. He’s been missing since Tuesday 23rd June 2020. He was last seen going to Mabopane Station. If anyone has information about his whereabouts please contact 0737913428. Retweet For Awareness”. This received attention over the weekend with 1,400 retweets and 488 likes.

@SinovuyoDube shared two images of a woman and included details of the case. The tweet read: “please spread awareness guys, Nontombi Mdlalo was last seen last week on the 26th of June. please help us find her.” This gained traction with 9,800 retweets and 2,500 likes. 

@Miss_Gallie shared an image with details about the same woman: “Hi guys, please keep RTing. She’s still missing. She left her house last week Friday saying she’s going to take out money at Shoprite and her phone has been off since. 🙏🏽”. This received 4,800 retweets and 761 likes. 

On Saturday @AdvoBarryRoux shared an image of a missing woman, Ntombikayise Joyce Motshegoa. This post got 5,300 retweets. Later that day, Twitter user @skeleton_maze, commented on the post:  “She’s home safe.” This tweet received 5 retweets and 62 likes. 

Xenophobia rebuked

On Saturday night @masentle_NEO tweeted: “There is no south African owning spaza shop in Somalia. There is no South African occupied Lagos selling drugs like Nigerians in Johannesburg. It must come to an end, Johannesburg is for South Africans not evil Nigerians feeding our kids with drugs”. The post has been retweeted over 300 times and received more than 800 likes.

Responding to the tweet, @law1920 commented: “But no one prevent you to do the same to their countries. Those kids no one force them to use drugs, they are just addicted like people with alcohol, why don’t you blame liquor stores for selling alcohol? Even South Africans themselves are selling drugs, don’t you see it?” They were told to, “stop defending nonsense wena Satan”. 

Another person commented that we needed to address drug usage first, because people will continue to sell drugs if there is a demand for them, regardless of nationality.

On Sunday @Mudzu_thabe tweeted: “When foreigners kill South Africans, the South African government protects these criminals #PutSouthAfricansFirst #NigeriansMustFutsek #InfluxOfImmigrantsMustStop”. @nkulu_syamukela responded: “Can u imagine how South African lives have been ruined through Nigerian nyaope along. Not a city, town or village is without nyaope addicts. Families have been torn apart & destroyed. We are talking MILLIONS of South Africans! #NigeriansMustGo #NigeriansMustFutsek!”. Combined, these xenophobic tweets received 54 retweets and just over 100 likes.

#PutSouthAfricansFirst trended again, within the conversation of jobs being reserved for South Africans first. On Saturday uLerato_Pillay tweeted, “The ANC Government warns against inciting violence against Foreigners, According to the Government those who say #PutSouthAfricansFirst will be arrested because South Africans are not supposed to voice their concerns. be ready for harassment”. This tweet was accompanied by images of a press release that uLerato explained was made by Phumla Williams, Director-General of the Government Communications and Information System. Williams had said a poster on social media incited violence against foreign nationals and called on law enforcement services to take action against people spreading this type of hatred online. DM

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation based at UCTs Graduate School of Business and incubated by te Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership. It was established to track and counter mis- and disinformation, fake news and divisive and polarising rhetoric that is promulgated online to undermine social cohesion, democratic integrity, and the stability of nation states.


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