Video from Botswana showing cars on fire falsely linked to Kenyan

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A day after Kenya’s 2023 Safari Rally motor racing championship came to a close, a video emerged on social media alongside a claim that it showed cars set on fire by reckless revellers attending the event. But this is false: the clip shows vehicles that caught fire in the mining town of Jwaneng during the 2023 Botswana 1000 Desert Race in June.

The video was published on TikTok on June 26, 2023. It was shared more than 5,800 times before it was removed.

The clip shows cars burning on a field while a man who looks shocked can be seen flailing in the foreground.

Screenshot showing the false post, taken on July 13, 2023

In the video, a narrator speaking in Swahili says: “I told you that the Naivasha rally championship would bring us problems. Now see what happened last night. People went over there to camp, cook, and light bonfires. Fire has caught the dry grass and spread to the cars. Now people can’t get their cars out due to the traffic they caused through reckless parking. All the cars have been burnt.”

Similar claims were also shared here, here and here on TikTok.

The Safari Rally was first held in 1953 when Kenya was still part of the British Empire, and it became part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 1973 (archived here).

It was removed from the WRC calendar (archived here) in 2002 after local organisers failed to meet their obligations to Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the body that governs the sport. After a 19-year absence, Safari Rally returned to the WRC calendar in 2021.

In 2023, Kenya hosted the championship in Naivasha, about 90 kilometres west of the country’s capital Nairobi.

Fans descended on Naivasha to watch the three-day event that ran from June 23-25.

French driver Sebastien Ogier won (archived here) the 2023 edition.

But the footage does not show cars that caught fire in Naivasha.

Botswana inferno

Using the InVID-WeVerify video verification tool, AFP Fact Check performed reverse image searches on keyframes from the clip and found that the blaze (archived here) took place in Jwaneng, a mining town in southern Botswana, about 160 kilometres from the country’s capital Gaborone.

According to media reports here and here (archived here and here), about 49 vehicles caught fire on June 25, 2023 while the owners of the cars were watching the 2023 Botswana 1000 Desert Race.

Screenshot showing a news article in which a story about the Botswana inferno was published

No deaths or injuries were reported at the time.

AFP Fact Check contacted the Botswana police to ask about the cause of the fire and if there were casualties, but they are yet to respond.

The 2023 Botswana 1000 Desert Race (archived here) was held on the same dates as Kenya’s Safari Rally. Drivers Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer won the race.

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