Police nab suspected sexual predators

Monday, February 17, 2020

An extensive police operation has netted five alleged sexual predators across Gauteng for child pornography.

The arrests were effected by the South African Police Service’s Serial and Electronic FCS Investigation (SECI) -- a specialised section within the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit -- across Gauteng during an operation code named ‘Moonlight’ last week.

In a statement, police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said the operation was conducted by members from National and Gauteng SECI, in collaboration with the United States of America’s Department of Homeland Security officers, the National Crime Intelligence Cyber Crime Unit and Gauteng Forensic Social Work Services.

The US Department, Muridili said, assisted with expertise in crime scene forensic analysis.

The arrests came after the team acted on information received from the Crime Intelligence Cyber Crime Unit. The initial investigation produced viable information to allow members to apply for and receive search warrants. 

“The search warrants were executed at various properties, resulting in the arrest of five men -- aged between 30 and 62 years -- for possession of explicit child abuse material (images and videos).

“Several personal computers, hard drives, flash drives, tablets and cell phones, which contain explicit child abuse material (child pornography), were seized during the operation for further investigation and as exhibits,” Muridili said.

The first arrest was effected in Rietfontein, Pretoria, on 10 February 2020.

“The 30-year-old man, living with his parents, has appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate Court and he has been granted bail,” said Muridili.

The second suspect, a 42-year-old married man and father of three from Claremont, Pretoria, was also arrested on the same day.

The cases have been postponed to 12 March and 28 February, respectively.

A day later, the team detained a 62-year-old married pensioner. He appeared at the Roodepoort Magistrate Court and his case was remanded to Monday, 17 February.

On 13 February, a fourth suspect (42) was arrested in Daspoort, Pretoria. He has also appeared in court and he will appear again on 8 April 2020. 

“The last and fifth man (34) was arrested in Kempton Park,” said Muridili.

The suspect, she said, has a previous conviction of rape and sexual assault, for which he received a five-year suspended sentence that will end on 15 March 2020.

He will appear before the Kempton Park Magistrate Court on Monday, 17 February.

Muridili said another search warrant was executed in Garsfontein, Pretoria, but the suspect was not arrested, as there was no material found on his premises. However, 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 2020. 

All the accused that have already appeared in court have been 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,” said Muridili.

Divisional Commissioner of Detective Services, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili, applauded the collaboration of various units and commended the team for the arrests.

"The groundwork 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 have called on parents to exercise strict measures that ensure their children do not fall prey to sexual predators lurking on the net. 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 prohibit children under 13 years from utilising WhatsApp and Facebook,” the police said. – SAnews.gov.za

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