Bus Mass Rape in Kintampo Never Happened

On Thursday, the horrible news of a bus going from Accra to Tamale in northern Ghana was reported to have been robbed by gun men close to Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo region . The robbers, after having collected money, phones and jewelery, were said to have raped the passengers and, at gunpoint, forced male passengers to rape their female co-travelers. One father was said to have been forced to rape his teenage daughter with tears streaming down his face.

I was first informed through a mass email at work, later the news was all over the radio with comments from police, crime experts and upset Ghanaians –  “where have we ended up?!”

Now it seems the whole mass rape story was made up. Nobody has reported such an incident, no victims have stepped forward, no evidence is available. The incident has been discussed at highest possible level in Ghana and the conclusion is the story is pure fantasy by a young woman.

What can we learn from this?

Well in my opinion, Ghana is an extremely safe and peaceful society to live in. It seems Ghanaians like to more often focus on the negatives, “armed robbers” etc.  – can we learn to be more positive about Ghana?   I was told recently by a friend that the rate of murders in Ghana is very low compared to almost anywhere else in the world…(source not known, anybody?)

This report by Overseas Security Advisory Council for Ghana 2010, although suggesting that Ghana is a “high crime threat country” starts its list with street crime such as pick pockets (!) and later focuses on the dangers of the Ghanaian roads. Regarding street crime, the report advices not leaving your car unlocked “even for a short period of time” (!!) About carjacking they say:

The potential for carjacking exists in Ghana, but there have been no reported occurrences over the past year.

About safety at night:

Walking alone is not advisable in downtown areas or poorly lit areas, especially at night.

About burglary:

There have been burglary attempts against expatriate residences in the past, but perpetrators generally lack the sophistication required to overcome home alarm systems and static security guards.

To me, that makes Ghana safer than any US state and European capital.

What did you learn?

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  1. What a horrible “prank” or whatever it was. It goes to show how the new technologies and the mass media make it possible to make these types of stories go viral and make “everybody” believe them.

    So what do we do? Believe nothing? Lives of good people have been destroyed by these types of ugly viral stories or accusations. We must become more discerning and more critical with everything we hear and see.

  2. For tourists, there is the issue of muggings on beaches even in broad daylight. Best to stay close to populated beaches rather than ambling off to deserted sections.

    To think that even the President of Ghana with the entire security system at his disposal commented on the fabricated, fictitious event. Or, maybe that was part of the prank too.

  3. Yes, a horrible story overall. Indeed we need to be more critical, especially if we work in a media house! Good to have you back, Ms Footloose!

  4. Hi Chris, thanks for the reminder, but I always get warned even before coming close to the beach.
    Haha, yes how do we really know the president was consulted? good point!

  5. This is an ugly story indeed and I think not only the person that launched the rumor, but the journalists that made it public should be made responsible for it. Whatever happened to checking one’s sources?

    As for crime in Ghana, I agree that it is comparatively low and there are good reasons to feel safe in the country. But – and you might have seen this coming from me – I strongly doubt official data on crime is reliable. I am certain crime reporting in Ghana is way less exhaustive than, say, in the US, for the very simple reason experience has taught people there is no point in even reporting having your phone/wallet/purse stolen, or things stolen from the car. More significantly, let’s not compare Ghana to any other European capital, but maybe to other countries, since it is always the case that the big cities have a much higher crime rate. I hate to be pessimistic and turn to anecdotes, but our friend S. has been exposed within two weeks to three first hand stories of incidents in Accra, out of which two were very serious. And in one of the cases having a security guard didn’t help prevent an individual being attacked with a machete in his own house.

    Also, when it comes to crime, it might not be a good idea to compare any other place to the US, which is an exceptional case. Their incarceration rate is more than seven times larger than the European average, which means that more than 1% of adults in the US are in prison.

    In short, I’d say feeling safe in Ghana, but being careful in Accra are both good ideas.

  6. Raluca said it – journalists are supposed to check a story before they publish. This is not the first fake story to make the press in Ghana. Lazy journalism!

  7. Always the fact checker 🙂 thanks Raluca, I think we are waiting for your own blog!!! Until then, I might repost some of your comments as a follow up to yesterday’s post. Thanks!

  8. Ghana seems safer than many other african n asian countries where in major cities people are being shoot without any reason. muslim coutries are mostly effected in this part.todays need n demands for development n a revolutionery change is peace,harmoney,tolerence.and those friends whom we trust reports,avoid to bring fake reports.but dont forget to post they true stories for dangrious n worsen coutries in other hand.