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 WESTVILLE COMMUNITY POLICING FORUM 
Article 032 Unconfirmed Rumours 
Irresponsible forwarding of unconfirmed rumours as sms's or emails cause unnecessary grief

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I have written at length before about people spreading hysterical and patently untrue e-mails, especially about crime. I have emphasised that it does nothing more than create undue fear and paranoia amongst us, and does nothing to actually help or warn anybody in a constructive manner. The main problem is that very, very few people actually take one minute to verify the information, but rather forward it on blindly basically just making us all that bit more stupid and ignorant as to what is really going on.

The problem has now spread to cell phone messages. I received the following message from a friend of mine who got it on his Black Berry Messenger (BBM). Quoted verbatim, my comments in brackets:

"Be aware dat (sic) Pavilion Shopping Mall is no longer a safe place of shopping. Most of you know (do we?) that there were 2 females that were robbed @ gunpoint 2 weeks ago. Now Last nyt (sic) a 62yr old women (sic) from Care Estate was shot 5 times dead In the upper parking lot. Please be advised n (I'm tired of writing "sic") pass on to friends n family who shop there."

Somebody has severely, intentionally or unintentionally got their wires crossed. The elderly lady who was murdered, was tragically shot in a hijacking, on Sunday 4 September, outside of a residential complex in Westville North. Some 10km away from the Pavilion. This incident was reported in The Mercury on Monday 5 September. 
The two young women were robbed at knife point over a month ago.

I beg, plead, implore you all to please check facts before you pass these things on. I do not care what source you got it from, neither do I mind fielding phone calls and e-mails asking me to verify information. That is what I'm here for. You do have the right to know what is going on in your area, but you need to know the truth, not a half baked, heavily edited and misspelled message on your cell phone.
Besides, if you were a store owner at the shopping center concerned, how would you feel about potential customers being scared away by a lie?

It IS your life, take it seriously.

Sgt Stephen Clark
SAPS Westville
Communications
Social Crime Prevention