The rape and murder of a woman in South Afrca whose story went viral after her ordeal was relayed in a series of tweets by a friend has turned out to be completely made up - with the teenager responsible being widely praised for the elaborate hoax.
The violent tale about Kamogelo Peterson - or "Kamo" - began when @JustKuthi posted the first handful of 70 tweets on 10 January.
Story time ..— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
1) I met @Kamo51702562 when I was 12, our mothers had met at some work function & developed a friendship almost immediately. She was 15.— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
2) I was fascinated by her feisty persona. Well that, and the fact that she was a twin and I struggled to tell them apart for about 2 years.— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
As the tweets continue, JustKuthi describes her friendship with Kamo; how the two treated each other like sisters, especially when Kamo's father and real twin sister were suddenly killed in a car accident.
She talks about how they gradually drifted apart but became close again in December 2015, particularly when "Khuthi" was taken ill and admitted to hospital.
Over the couse of the day, the tweets describe how Kamo then went missing on 7 January during a visit to the hospital. In the frantic search that followed, her car was found with its windows smashed and the driver's seated stained in blood.
The next day police found Kamo, who they confirmed had been abducted and raped.
36) First reaction when we found her car was to puke. I was paralysed with fear when I saw how battered it was. Where is she?— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
45) They found her in Edenvale Hospital, barely alive. Someone found her next to the road somewhere in Germ, and called an ambulance.— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
50) She bled through her open wounds where they obviously beat her up. She bled from the most sacred part of her body where she was violated— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
57) I watched as the life was sucked out of her, my face wet with my own tears, knowing that my life would never be the same again.— January 21st ☆ (@JustKhuthi) January 10, 2016
The story quickly picked up momentum and #RIPKamo started trending on Twitter.
The Department of Women even commented on it, saying it “reflects a sad reality of women in our country”.
If the actual account of Kamo is a work of creative writing, it is inspired&reflects a sad reality of Women in our country #itsnotjustastory— Department of Women (@Dept_of_Women) January 11, 2016
Kamo by Khuthi maybe fictional but the rape of Kamo of Diepsloot,Sandton r real.Their ordeal just didnt make it on twitter #itsnotjustastory— Department of Women (@Dept_of_Women) January 11, 2016
A South African newspaper, The Star, then picked up the story and published it - before it was discovered to be fake.
The Star’s editor, Kevin Ritchie, told News 24 that it had “slipped through on deadline” and they had not checked the story with the police.
He said: “We are red-faced and not happy with this at all. We are doing whatever we can to learn from this because this is not the journalism we pride ourselves on practicing… It is a huge lesson for us and the [media] industry.”
Police confirmed they were not aware of the case.
But Ms Makananise, after being reportedly tracked down by The Star, admitted to fabricating the story based on “a story I read on the internet” but remained repentant.
She said: “It made me feel like I didn’t want to live in South Africa anymore, so I made up my own story to show people how bad it is to live in South Africa.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I love books and I always tell stories.
“It’s just that this time so many people responded, I just left it. I apologise for misleading everyone,” she was quoted as saying.
However, condolences and tributes had already poured in on Twitter hoping “justice” would be found for Kamo, which were retweeted by Ms Makananise.
When people found out they had been duped, outrage at Ms Makananise’s deception was widespread.
so this #RIPKamo story was just that? a story?? Wth?? That's a whole lot of levels of fucked up! !— ZamaNisi :)* (@Hermoso_Nisi) January 12, 2016
Reading it again and my gosh the red flags that #RIPkamo is a sham— #black (@Pr33tyD33p) January 11, 2016
But it also sparked a debate on the reality for women in the country, and the after-effects of trauma.
South African writer Zukiswa Zimela wrote in Destiny Collect Magazine: “If the tale is indeed made up, why did so many people unquestioningly believe it could really happen?"
She quoted Sonke Gender Justice spokesperson Mbuyiselo Botha as saying the story was not difficult to believe: "As South Africans, we know that we count among the highest in the world when it comes to women being sexually violated every day.
"As a result, there is a groundswell of support for survivors of sexual assault," he said.
The Department of Women, who previously believed Ms Makananise’s story, said: “Khuthi’s story may be fictional but the story is a reality for a lot of women and children in our country and that’s why we fell for it.
“Violence against women and children is real. Khuthi’s story may be fake but in reality there are many Kamo’s out there.
“Khuthi may not be aware but her story helped raise awareness of the scourge.”
Rape and sexual abuse is prevalent in South Africa, although figures released by the authorities in 2015 showed a 3 per cent decrease in rape reports that year, amounting to 46,253 cases.
However, The Medical Research Council has said only one in nine rapes that occur are reported to the police, therefore the actual number of rapes is much higher, according to fact-checking organisation Africa Check.Reuse content