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The first tip-off that jailed South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius might not be dead, as a fake news item claimed, was the misspelling of his name.
"Oscar Pistorious commits suicide in Prison," topped the article on a website that flies under the masthead of City Herald. The additional "o" indicated the piece was dodgy, but the blunders didn’t stop there.
The article said Pistorius hanged himself in his prison cell, allegedly by tying a bedsheet to a window. It noted that prison officials announced the death on Saturday, but then added that he died at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday.
Comments posted on the article’s webpage showed that odd time sequence didn’t slip by careful readers.
"If this was news (bearing in mind you say it happened Sunday morning ZA time, but they managed to announce it on Saturday), it would be all over the international press, the BBC, Reuters, eNCA (a South African television news service)... not a sniff, anywhere," wrote one man.
The Pretoria-based Centurion Rekord, a legitimate news source, took the time to check with the family.
"Rekord has spoken the brother, Carl Pistorius who said that the family knows nothing of the sort," the paper reported July 17.
Similarly, the official website for Oscar Pistorius has nothing about his death.
Pistorius is serving a six-year sentence for shooting his girlfriend in 2013, sparking a courtroom drama that drew worldwide attention. Pistorius, a Paralympic gold medalist, claimed he fired on Reeva Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder in the couple’s apartment. The details remain murky and initially, Pistorius was found guilty of negligent homicide. But a higher court overturned that ruling and declared him guilty of murder.
There were rumors in 2016 that Pistorius attempted suicide in jail, but he and his lawyers denied those accounts.
The Centurion Rekord described the item about Pistorius’ death as fake news, and we fully agree.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Bloggers, BREAKING NEWS: Oscar Pistorious commits suicide in Prison, July 16, 2017
Centurion Rekord, Fake news says Oscar Pistorius committed suicide, July 17, 2017
Oscar Pistorius, Official website, accessed July 24, 2017
CNN, Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 6 years in prison for girlfriend's murder, July 7, 2016
Citizen, Oscar moved to Atteridgeville correctional centre, Nov. 14, 2016
Citizen, Fake news says Oscar Pistorius committed suicide, July 17, 2017
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