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07 September 2022

HSRC calls on members of the public to refrain from spreading fake news about its data collectors

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Press release

Pretoria, Tuesday 6 September 2022 – The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) calls on members of the public to refrain from distributing and spreading false information about the organisation’s data collectors.

This follows a series of false Facebook posts and WhatsApp voice messages that have been circulating on social media platforms for the past few weeks, particularly in the Free State, claiming that the HSRC data collectors are either defrauding or robbing communities.

The HSRC’s Acting CEO Prof Leickness Simbayi reassured members of the public that there was no truth in the circulating malicious messages. He emphasised that community members’ safety was the organisation’s first priority.

“We therefore encourage members of the public to report any suspicious activity to the police or to verify the authenticity of HSRC fieldworkers with the organisation whenever they are in doubt. Our fieldworkers are often identifiable by their HSRC-marked bibs and identity cards. Their vehicles are also marked with various project logos on their doors. When our data collectors arrive at different households, they introduce themselves and provide an explanation for the purpose of their study,” added Prof Simbayi.

Although participation in HSRC surveys is entirely voluntary, it is important that as many people living in South Africa as possible participate so that the data that is generated is accurate and constitutes a credible sample of the target population.  The data will inform the country’s response to various issues such as HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, food and nutrition security, service delivery etc, to ensure lives and livelihoods are continually protected and improved.

The HSRC conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-sciences research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations, and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

Some of the major HSRC surveys that are currently being conducted across the country are listed below:

The sixth South African HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey (SABSSM VI)

First commissioned by Former President Nelson Mandela in 2001, the study is a population-based, cross-sectional survey of households throughout South Africa. It is conducted to understand the factors driving the HIV epidemic and its dynamics and is used to inform policies and strategies to tackle the epidemic. The survey is repeated approximately every five years. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first round of the survey. One important addition to the study year is that a sub-sample of participants will be randomly selected to test for SARS-Cov-2 antibodies, letting us better understand the true impact of SARS-Cov-2 on South Africa.

WhatsApp: 073 505 5078

For survey inquiries, contact:

Dr Lehlogonolo Makola 072 831 0760

Dr Shandir Ramlagan 083 447 6151

Dr Musa Mabaso 066 075 9452

3. The South African national survey on health, life experiences, and family relations (SANSHEF)

The survey aims to help us understand how different life events, childhood experiences and family relations influence health and wellbeing. This survey will assist the government, non-governmental and community-based organisations, and other stakeholders to develop more effective and sustainable interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of all South Africans.

For survey inquiries, contact:

Dr Zaino Peterson – 021 466 7804

Dr Whadi-Ah Parker – 021 466 7926

Dr Natisha Dukhi: – 021 466 7824

Dr Tawanda Makusha: – 084 949 7933

3. The National Food and Nutrition Security Survey (NFNSS)

The survey seeks to gather data and information that the government will use to ensure that every household in South Africa has access to adequate food and nutrition through targeted interventions and effective planning and deployment of resources for food production. It will analyse the link between food security and nutrition and explore the reasons for people’s vulnerability. It will include an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on household food security and nutrition in South Africa.

For survey inquiries, contact:

Dr Rodney Managa 066 587 2100

Katlego Setshedi 066 075 8283

For more information about HSRC surveys or if members of the public are in doubt, they can visit or call 012 302 2000


For media inquiries:

Dr Lucky Ditaunyane, Cell: 0832276074, Email: Nematandani, Cell: 0827659191, Email:

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Notes to the Editor

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration, and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations, and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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Man reading fake news. Pic by David Gomes, Pexels

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