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SA Police aware of parents selling kids on social media, but have no resources to monitor platforms

  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says there are no resources to monitor social media platforms for human trafficking.

  • Officials are aware, though, parents are selling their children on Facebook platforms.

  • Cele was responding to a written parliamentary question.

South African Police Minister Bheki Cele says there are no resources to monitor social media platforms for human trafficking, even knowing some parents are selling their children on Facebook Marketplace.

In response to a written parliamentary question from IFP MP Zandile Majozi, Cele said police were aware of incidents of parents advertising children on social media platforms.

Majozi wanted details on police efforts to clamp down on the smuggling of children.

Cele said platforms such as Facebook Marketplace were well-known for selling children.

"The SAPS has identified specific media platforms that are being used as platform for human trafficking. These platforms are hosted on the Clearweb [public websites] namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp [encrypted platform]. These social media platforms mentioned are managed [hosted] in the United States of America [USA]," Cele said.

In August, police in the Northern Cape rescued 44 people who were allegedly trafficked.

An investigation was launched after eight members of the group managed to get to the Kuruman police station to complain about the conditions to which they were being subjected to.

They alleged they were brought to Mothibistad in the Northern Cape from Gauteng under the pretense of a learnership opportunity in "electricity and lights making", said police at the time.

Cele said Crime Intelligence did not have dedicated capacity to monitor social media platforms. It relied on incidents to be reported, he added.

"Incidents addressed on an ad-hoc basis when an incident becomes known or is reported when a suspected case of human trafficking is detected or reported information is validated and enhanced, to be operationalised by the various SAPS divisions, as per mandated function.

"The SAPS is in the process of acquiring social media monitoring solutions to assist in the proactive monitoring of illegal activities on social media," Cele said.

Asked about collaboration to clamp down on human trafficking, he added: "No, the SAPS does not collaborate with any external agencies with regard to the monitoring of media platforms that may be used for human trafficking."

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