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Hawks launch new task team on child sales

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The Hawks have established a new task team with the hopes of clamping down on cases where parents are accused of selling their children. The move comes after two such cases were reported this year, although neither bore any indication of being linked to a organised crime syndicate.

A 20-year-old mother in Kwazulu-Natal was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of trying to sell her baby on Gumtree. More recently three people in Mpumalanga were apprehended for attempting to sell a one-year-old girl for R5 000.

The formation of the task team has come as a surprise to Prof. Ann Skelton of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, considering the minimal number of cases, as well as the fact that both matters are already being dealt with by the criminal justice system.

“I would have thought that child sexual abuse or child pornography rings (would be targeted). We do know that there is a big concern around these and that it is more likely to be organised crime, which is really where the Hawks’ role plays.

“I think that ordinary matters like the two that we’ve seen can and are being handled in the ordinary criminal justice system,” she stresses.

There however remains a possibility that the Hawks might have additional information that may allude to the possible involvement of an organised crime syndicate.

In the KZN case, Skelton explains that the mother in question initially lied about the paternity of her child. Upon attempts to get maintenance from the father he requested the child undergo a paternity test, spurring the mother to sell her child. The mother was subsequently charged under child trafficking laws.

“It’s obviously inexcusable and irrational. That’s why I say this is not indicative of any organised crime, this is very personal individualised situation,” she reiterates.

While the country’s economy is facing its biggest crisis since the global recession, Skelton says even the most desperate families are unlikely to resort to the selling of children to survive. VOC

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