The stories that fooled SA readers

South Africans woke up to a string of unlikely news stories in various print and broadcast media on Wednesday to mark the first day of the year’s fourth month, popularly known as April fools’ day.

According to a report in the Dispatch Online, African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema had secured prime land in the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Malema intended building a R50-million 14-bedroom-mansion courtesy of overseas donors and taxpayers in the conservation area, where the oldest human fossilised footprint had been found.

The tax money would be taken from a secret government programme called Operation Pork Barrel, according to a document in the hands of the Dispatch.

“This is a house for the people built by the people. They can try to stop me but my Msholozi [ANC president Jacob Zuma] will dance circles around them,” Malema was reported to have said.

The home, which would dominate the skyline above the point, had also apparently already been approved by the South African Conservation Organisation.

The newspaper claimed to be in possession of the youth leader’s house plans.
These showed that Malema styled the house on Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch, complete with a theme park and recording studio from where he would transmit his political broadcasts to the nation.

It would also have a shooting range, an indoor spa and a discotheque.

The house would also have a private library filled with Malema’s favourite comic books and a state-of-the-art carpenter’s workshop—a dig at the G symbol Malema got for woodwork in matric.

The SABC reported that construction of the Gautrain had been suspended for six months after workers found a large quantity of gold coins, minted between 1892 and 1898, at the Rosebank, Johannesburg site.

The Citizen reported that the government had decided to invite the Dalai Lama to visit the country after it denied him a visa just a week ago.

The Times reported that former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang would be reinstated in her old post after her successor Barbara Hogan criticised the government for denying the Dalai Lama a visa.

The Star and Beeld newspapers opted not to carry April fools’ stories this year. The Star news editor Jillian Green said it was an informal decision. She could not confirm if the decision would be upheld in future.

Beeld news editor Andries Cornelissen could not be reached for comment immediately.

Meanwhile, a radio news broadcast on 702 Talk Radio claimed that South African-born actress Charlize Theron was expected to return home for a part in local soap opera Isidingo.—Sapa

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