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AN SMS claiming that Mpumalanga police had raided the Barberton residence of Premier David Mabuza and found R45million in cash and illegal firearms is a lie.
A number of cellphone messages, copies of which are in Sowetan's possession, had been sent to politicians, businessmen, journalists and ordinary citizens in the province.
The provincial government, ANC and police have dismissed the SMS "as a lie".
Mpumalanga ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane said the party viewed the SMS as a "dirty and malicious rumour aimed at damaging the good name of the ANC in general and the persona and reputation of the provincial chairperson in particular".
"The ANC in the province condemns in the strongest possible terms the mischievous allegations that the police have raided the residence of the ANC's provincial chairperson and premier of Mpumalanga comrade DD Mabuza this week."
The message says R45million in cash, two AK 47s and eight other illegal firearms were found during a "top secret" police raid this week.
The messages started doing the rounds on Monday and sent panic throughout the province, with Sowetan's Nelspruit office being "flooded with tips and enquiries".
One of the messages reads: "The ff was found eplazini (farm) in yesterday's operation by the police - R45m, a couple hundreds of thousand rands, 8 illegal firearms incl (sic) 2 AK-47, ammunition, passports, ids and other incriminating documents were found!"
The provincial government's spokesperson, Mabutho Sithole, also dismissed the allegations.
"There was no such. We heard about the information which is aimed at tainting the image of the premier, but we have found it to be malicious and damaging lies," Sithole said.
Provincial police organised crime unit spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi was quoted by a local radio station as dismissing the allegation.
Hlathi, however, changed his tune when Sowetan contacted him about the matter yesterday.
"No comment," was all Hlathi said to your's truly.