Amid a news cycle that’s been dominated by incessant White House controversies swirling around President Donald Trump you might have caught a bizarre story about a Zimbabwean pastor who was purportedly eaten by crocodiles while trying to walk on water.
The story was so wild, so absurd that it was hard to believe it was real. Not surprisingly, hours after U.K. outlets began to spread the news, it was revealed that the entire tale was a major example of fake news gone totally wrong.
But before we go there, let’s start by recapping what the initial reports proclaimed. Numerous outlets identified the victim as Jonathan Mthethwa of Saint of the Last Days Church and said that he was devoured after he walked about 100 feet into a waterway known for its many crocodiles. Mthethwa was said to be trying to re-create the biblical scene of Jesus walking on water.
“The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week,” a man identified as “Deacon Nkosi” was quoted. “He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by three large crocodiles in front of us.”
It didn’t take long for some of the outlets that published the report to either remove it entirely or add a comment noting that it has since been debunked.
In a Mashable piece titled, “Everyone fell for this fake story about a pastor eaten by crocodiles,” the outlet explained the roots of the story and how it ended up going so viral. Most of the associated stories reference an article in Nigeria’s the Daily Post, with that story citing a report in the Zimbabwe Herald.
But here’s the sticking point — and it’s a profoundly pertinent lesson in going back to the original source: there is reportedly no such report about a pastor trying to walk on water and being devoured by crocodiles on the Zimbabwe Herald website (Snopes noted that there was a story published on Zimbabwe Today, though).
So, no, a pastor wasn’t eaten by three crocodiles. It’s all fake news, folks.
Other Must-Read Stories: