The Internet is certainly a marvelous invention that has introduced the greatest global revolution in human communication since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439. Not only has it introduced the wonder of instant human interaction throughout the world, it is also a fabulous educational and information tool. A great force for good.
But it can also be a treacherous tool in malicious hands, as I have just discovered to my cost. For the past several months a scurrilous article purporting to have been written by me has been circulating the world to my acute embarrassment and outrage. But there appears to be nothing I can do to stop it.
The fraudulent article is entitled “The death of South Africa,” and states specifically that I am the author — noting with patronising malice that “Allister Sparks is one of the most senior, respected journalists in the country. His facts can surely only be the truth, and many of them are already well known.”
Not a word of what follows was written by me. Nor are the views expressed in the text remotely akin to those I hold about the future of our country. I believe it is going through a difficult political phase, as readers of my regular column in this newspaper will know, but I certainly don’t believe it is in the throes of death.
What this wicked fraudster has done has been to lift a few facts from a chapter on Welkom in my 2003 book, “Beyond the Miracle,” and then twist them to have me contending that the decline of gold mining in that region “is a microcosm of the booming of the Republic of South Africa under apartheid and its decay under the ANC Marxist terrorist regime.”
The article goes on to portray a country in a state of comprehensive decline and concludes with a doomsday view of what lies ahead. “As the rivers of gold and other critical minerals that once flowed from South Africa dry up one after the other, due to BEE and nationalisation, the world and especially the Oppenheimers, will look back to the good old days when the whites were in charge of South Africa and they were making their fortunes. The day will still come that they will realise that they might have betted on the wrong horse.”
Anyone who knows my long journalistic record of exposing the evils of the apartheid regime and supporting the role of the ANC and others in our transition to the new South African will appreciate the outrage I feel at being so falsely portrayed.
But what can one do about it? This is criminal fraud, but who can I sue for the damage caused and have prosecuted for the crime that it is? I have done my best to trace the author and I think I have tracked down the individual who first posted it on the Internet, a South African living in Florida. I have telephoned him and, though he admits to having forwarded the e-mail, he denies having written it. I have protested to the webiste he posted it on, and to their credit they have taken it down.
But the damn thing keeps circulating and there seems no way to stop it. All I can do is draw public attention to the calumny being committed, to disclaim any connection whatsoever with the contents of this scurrilous article and draw the attention of any who receive it to the fact that they will be party to the fraud if they transmit it further.