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 on 13 August 2020.
Serial killer on the loose
News that a suspected serial killer was active on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal has been trending, with many users appealing to women in the area to be safe. A tweet by @dukekdj criticised Minister of Police Bheki Cele, saying he was not interested in dealing with the serial killer as the case does not involve enforcing lockdown regulations. @dukekdj’s tweet was liked 3 200 times and retweeted 2 000 times by today. Comments on @duke_kdj’s tweet were broadly supportive of his sentiment, although some did note that Bheki Cele was the Minister and cannot physically address individual crime incidents.
Gender-Based Violence has been a major concern for South Africans, featuring repeatedly as a top-topic in the online conversation in recent months. Yesterday local celebrity Maps Maponyane tweeted: “Don’t make Her feel uncomfortable. Don’t harass Her. Don’t touch Her. Don’t beat Her. Don’t rape Her. Don’t kill Her… Just leave Her alone. It’s THAT simple”. His tweet received extensive positive engagement, with 11 000 likes and almost 4 000 retweets in under a day.
Inequality in South Africa
Conversations about inequality among South Africans received considerable attention on social media from Wednesday this week after @Lungah_ tweeted: “South Africa is paradise to everyone but South Africans.” This tweet gained traction yesterday, with over 1 600 retweets and 6 600 likes by this morning.
Shortly afterwards @SuperiorZulu adapted this post in a retweet: “South Africa is a paradise to everyone except for Black People.” This tweet generated 122 retweets and 276 likes.
Some users discussed the relationship between the state and black and white South Africans. Yesterday @QhaweL [tweeted](https://twitter.com/QhaweL/status/1293826636714999808): “Europeans live in constant fear of Black South Africans not cause we are violent but because they expect us to eventually come to our senses & retaliate. ANC has kept it’s promise that it’ll make sure we don’t retaliate by redirecting our anger towards ourselves & it’s working.” This tweet received 362 retweets and 743 likes by today.
Later that day, @tsepaMotshewa shared a video extract from the crime TV series Gomora. The character “Ntokozo” can be seen delivering a classroom speech about the severity of socio-economic inequality in South Africa. The tweet read, “[Must watch] Ntokozo demonstrating how useless this Freedom Charter Is. Black Consciousness includes Economic Liberation #GomoraMzanzi”. This tweet generated over 7 700 retweets and 15 000 likes.
Desperate for opportunities
Numerous tweets discussing the scarcity of employment opportunities received significant attention. A tweet by @Dennis_Boza from Tuesday 11 August 2020 resurfaced yesterday. The tweet contained a photograph of a young woman alongside the message: “This Is Zizipho Please Retweet and Like, lets Help Her Find a Job she is Really in need of a Job please Out there Help this Young Woman.She Needs all the Support in this women’s month she Struggling too much in this pandemic she is a Definitely A Hardworker #ZodwaFindsVusi”. This tweet received over 1 700 retweets and 1 600 likes.
Yesterday @zamagembe shared similar sentiments in a tweet that read, “Guys I won’t be much active on Twitter.. I need to shift my 100% focus on finding a new job before the situation at home get even worse. Put me in your prayers, wish me good luck or anything as m going ds irritating journey of job hunting again..☹☹”. This tweet received nearly 200 retweets and nearly 1 000 likes.
Schooled in solidarity
Twitter user @kalllllseyyyyy took to social media to highlight the plight of Matrics during the COVID-19 related lockdown. She shared “Grade 12/Matric learners are going to write full exam. They will need Bachelor pass to qualify for University Admission. Please help me to share all Grade 12/Matric Previous Question Papers and Answers with them. Let’s help Grade 12/Matric Students.” Under the tweet, she shared links to several question papers by subject as a resource for matrics who will be taking on one of the biggest challenges of their academic career amidst a pandemic. The post was widely welcomed with over 2 100 likes and 2 200 retweets and comments.
In another act of solidarity, local entrepreneurs receive support from their fellow South Africans online. ‘Young Entrepreneurship’ was the number 3 top topic yesterday, with many people re-tweeting and discussing the #PeegleExcellence awards. @PeegleLive is running a competition, offering R10 000 for young entrepreneurs in South Africa. #PeegleExcellence was used 2 767 times yesterday.
In an equally inspiring social media moment, appropriately named @HustleQueen01 tweeted that she had tiled the public bathrooms in her community for free, that tweet received over 35 000 interactions in two days.
The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation based at UCTs Graduate School of Business and incubated by the 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.