Listeria sceptics putting lives in danger

08 March 2018 - 15:29 By Philani Nombembe
Image: 123rf/ John Mcnamara

South Africans are quick to see the funny side of a crisis but some commentary about the listeria outbreak on social media is putting lives in danger.

One video clip featuring an isiZulu-speaking woman‚ poking fun at Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s warning to “avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat” has been doing the rounds.

In the video‚ the unidentified woman gives a running commentary while cutting slices off a large roll of polony‚ eating them and vowing to continue doing so.

“Will we be killed by polony‚ something we have been eating for ages‚” she asks. “I am going to eat it and I want to see if I will die. I want you to be witnesses. Why are they not showing us the bodies (of people killed by the disease)? I want to see those bodies lying next to the polony. Don’t take us for fools‚” she says defiantly.

“You don’t want us to enjoy our food. You are very silly. Stop with these messages‚” she says and hauls out another big roll of polony. “After finishing this one I will tuck into this one.”

Motsoaledi’s spokesman‚ Popo Maja‚ said‚ after watching the video on Thursday‚ that the woman was spreading a deadly message.

“This is sad‚” said Maja. “This person is committing an act of injustice. She is endangering lives. We advise people to discard such videos because they are communicating the wrong information. It counters what the department is trying to do.”

South Africa is grappling with the deadliest listeriosis outbreak in the world which has killed at least 180 people since January 2017.

Processed meat products‚ including Russians‚ viennas and polony have been hauled off shop shelves in a massive safety recall.