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Police know parents sell their children on social media, but don’t have the resources to monitor the platforms – Cele

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Police Minister Bheki Cele. Photo: Son

  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says there are no resources to monitor social media platforms for human trafficking.
  • However, officials know that parents are selling their children on Facebook platforms.
  • Cele was responding to a written parliamentary question.

Police Minister Bheki Cele says there are no resources to monitor social media platforms for human trafficking, even knowing that 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 about police efforts to crack down on child smuggling.

Cele said that platforms like Facebook Marketplace were known to sell children.

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

In August, Northern Cape police rescued 44 people who were suspected of being trafficked.

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

READ | Human trafficking recruitment: These are some of the ‘hot spots’ in Gauteng

They claimed they were brought to Mothibistad in the Northern Cape from Gauteng under the pretense of an apprenticeship opportunity in “electricity and light manufacturing”, police said at the time.

Cele said that Crime Intelligence did not have dedicated capacity to monitor social media platforms.

It relied on incidents to be reported, he added.

“Incidents are addressed in an ad-hoc manner when an incident is known or reported when a suspected case of trafficking in persons is detected or the reported information is validated and improved, so that the different divisions of the SAPS put it into operation, according to the assigned function.

“SAPS is in the process of acquiring social media monitoring solutions to assist in proactively monitoring illegal activity on social media,” Cele said.

When asked about collaborating to crack down on human trafficking, he added: “No, the SAPS does not collaborate with any outside agency regarding monitoring of media platforms that may be used for human trafficking.”


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