In a statement on Sunday, the SA Police Service (SAPS) said they had arrested five suspects for child pornography in an operation code-named “Moonlight” during the course of the past week, mainly in Pretoria.
Colonel Brenda Muridili said the SAPS Serial and Electronic FCS Investigation (SECI), a specialised section within Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) had tracked the alleged sexual predators from 10-14 February after working with the USA’s Department of Homeland Security.
They had assisted with their expertise in crime scene forensic analysis. The National Crime Intelligence Cyber Crime Unit and Gauteng Forensic Social Work Services also played a part.
The police received information about the suspects from the Crime Intelligence Cyber Crime Unit and initial investigation produced enough information to obtain search warrants, said Muridili.
“The search warrants were executed at various properties, resulting in the arrest of five men aged between 30 and 62 for possession of explicit child abuse material (images and videos). Several personal computers, hard drives, flash drives, tablets and cellphones which contain explicit child abuse material (child pornography) were seized during the operation for further investigation and as exhibits.”
The first arrest was made in Rietfontein, Pretoria on 10 February. A 30-year-old man, living with his parents, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and was granted bail. His case was postponed to 12 March.
A second man, aged 42, was arrested the same day in Claremont, Pretoria.
“He is a married father of three. He has also appeared in court and his case was postponed to 28 February.”
On 11 February, the police detained a third man, aged 62.
“He is a married pensioner who owns a day care centre which is managed by his wife. He appeared at the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court and his case was remanded to 17 February.
On 13 February, a fourth man, aged, 42 was arrested in Daspoort, Pretoria, where he was found living with his parents. He appeared in court and will appear again on 8 April.
The last and fifth man, aged 34, was arrested in Kempton Park.
“He has a previous conviction of rape and sexual assault for which he received a five-year suspended sentence that will end on 15 March. He will be appearing in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Monday,” the police confirmed.
“Another search warrant was executed in Garsfontein, Pretoria. The suspect was not arrested as there was no material found in his premises but his electronic equipment was seized for further investigation. The suspect has a pending 2012 case of possession of child pornography and bestiality due for judgment on 20 April.”
All five accused were granted bail of R5,000.
“They cannot be named as the police are still conducting thorough investigations and cannot rule out the possibility that some of the children on the material that has been confiscated might be South African and therefore their identity has to be protected.”
The Divisional Commissioner of Detective Services, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili, applauded the collaboration of various units and commended the team for the arrests.
“The ground work has been done, ours is to now ensure that these alleged sexual predators are convicted and given the harshest sentences, and to continue educating parents and caregivers on the dangers of not monitoring their children’s activities on the internet and social media,” said Mosikili.
The police appealed to parents to exercise strict measures to ensure their children did not fall prey to sexual predators on the internet.
“It is recommended that parents supervise their children’s access to the internet and social media. It is pertinent for parents to also note that WhatsApp and Facebook have age restrictions of 13 years within their respective terms of services, which prohibits children under 13 years from utilising WhatsApp and Facebook,” added Muridili.
Anyone with information on crime perpetrated against women and children was encouraged to call the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111 or send a tip-off on the MySAPSApp.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)