Pretoria - Child pornography is increasing at an alarming rate in South Africa, according to Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
He was addressing the 10th Anniversary Conference of INHOPE, an organisation that deals with child sexual abuse, particularly on the internet.
Gigaba said this was not only happening at the level of possession and distribution of material classified as child pornography, but also at the level of actual physical abuse of South African children in the production of such material.
"The sad fact is, child pornography is happening in South Africa in an increasing scale, but government has joined the rest of the world in acknowledging the importance of adopting a proactive approach to fighting child pornography and all forms of child abuse.
"We have adopted laws that protect children from all forms of abuse, such as the Films and Publications Act, the Children's Act and the Sexual Offences Act. When they were drafted, great care was taken to ensure they were consistent with each other and helped us to tackle what is an increasing international challenge," he said.
Gigaba said child abuse has become a global pervasive crime which is being aggravated by information and communications technology.
"It is a fact that while massive benefits can be heard from the globalisation and the Information Communication Technology revolution, incredible negativity also accompanies what is but an extraordinary human achievement, requiring that strict national regulations and cross-border cooperation, both at cyber-space level and even elsewhere, be established so that we can tackle the challenges that we are increasingly facing," he said.
According to Gigaba, the Films and Publications Act was amended last year to make the investigation and prosecution of child pornography offenders more effective. The Act has taken radical steps to provide a broad definition of child pornography and to impose harsher sentences on the culprits.
He said: "Indeed, criminals are aware of this. A single crime they commit within any single national border could have massive global consequences, for the victims, the global community as well as for their global market. Unfortunately, because crime is not recognised as a legitimate trade, there are no global rules and governance structures established to regulate its conduct.
"We are making a firm statement that every child, no matter where in this world they are, is our child; and we regarded it as our duty to protect those children by both prohibiting the distribution of any material in our country containing illicit and degrading images of those children as well as punishing those involved in such acts," he said.