Sky News has finally retracted an editorial made on Friday which baselessly blamed Melbourne’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases on the South Sudanese community.

In a Friday segment on Peta Credlin‘s self-titled TV show Credlin, it was claimed “poorly-assimilated migrants” from the South Sudanese community had ignored social distancing by having an “end-of-Ramadan feast”.

Credlin went on to say that many of these people spoke Dinka rather than English, or were illiterate, and therefore were uninformed about hygiene guidelines.

However, Credlin clearly overlooked the fact that there are hardly any Muslims in the South Sudanese community in Melbourne, particularly among Dinka people. Christians make up roughly 90% of the community, according to estimates provided by the Melbourne-based Society of South Sudanese Professionals (SSSPA).

The whole argument is not only implausible, but outright false, according to many members of the community.

After the program aired, the SSSPA slammed the segment as “a misleading and targetted attack on Victoria’s South Sudanese community.”

“SSSPA considers this report a serious assault on South Sudanese Victorians. Irresponsible journalism can cause immense damage and further smears against a community already unfairly targetted,” the association said in a statement.

“But most importantly, South Sudanese people are abiding by COVID-19 restrictions, evidenced by extremely low numbers of infection in the South Sudanese community.”

On Sunday, the network apologised and pulled the segment from its website.

“Peta Credlin and Sky News Australia accept these comments were inaccurate and sincerely apologise for any offence caused by the remarks which have been removed from all platforms,” the network said in a statement.

However, the apology has been met with mixed reactions.

Most members of the South Sudanese community in Melbourne either arrived many years ago or were born in Australia, so English is widely spoken. Many members of the community even noted that for the very few who do not speak English, the Victorian Government and SBS Dinka have been providing up-to-date information since the pandemic started.

According to official sources and not TV hosts who once-upon-a-time served as Chief of Staff to Tony Abbott, the recent spike in Melbourne can be attributed to a wide variety of minor occurrences, from carpooling to sharing a lighter.

As with the “African gangs” myth, blaming the coronavirus pandemic on Melbourne’s South Sudanese community is another instance of racist scapegoating.

Image: Sky News