Shock claim in child porn case
‘Parents sold pictures to US man’
FROM the age of 11, a West Coast girl was allegedly forced to pose and perform sexual acts so her mother could take photographs and send them to a man in the US.
Now, three years later, the teenager, who is now 14, and her 11-year-old brother are in a place of safety after a dramatic international manhunt which started in North Carolina in the US and ended in Vredeburg.
The SAPS Family Violence and Child Protection Unit raided the premises in Vredenburg last week.
The girl’s parents, who can’t be named because of the nature of the crime and her age, will be back in court as they apply for bail in the coming week. They are each facing 10 charges relating to rape, sexual assault and the manufacture of child pornography.
The search for the girl started when Lieutenant-Colonel Heila Niemand, the commander of the Gauteng Family Violence and Child Protection Unit, was approached by members of the Homeland Security Department based at the US embassy in Pretoria.
They informed her that a man had been arrested in Catawba County in North Carolina, with child pornography on his cellphone, and it was discovered he had paid for the pictures.
Investigators were able to track the payments to South Africa. “He was using wire transfers to send the money,” said Niemand.
US authorities, she said, initially tracked the money transfers to an address in Port Elizabeth, but when police visited the premises, they discovered the family had moved. The hunt then moved to Gauteng, with no luck.
Then, detectives obtained an address in Vredenburg. “We were not sure we were going to find anything,” she recalled. On February 14, the police swooped and found the family.
Niemand said: “He first befriended the child sending her messages. Then the mother jumped on to the bandwagon wanting payment. He would send messages asking for specific positions he wanted the girl to be photographed in.
“They told us that they did it because they are unemployed and needed to buy food.”
The girl, Niemand added, had believed that the man in the US was planning to marry her.
Police were surprised that the mother had no prior criminal record related to child pornography, she added.
● Meanwhile, on Tuesday, police raided a brothel in Kempton Park in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. They found teenagers, some as young as 15, who were believed to be sex workers.
The teenagers were allegedly lured to the premises under false pretences.
● Next month, 33-year-old Jayde Sheldon Bailey is to be sentenced in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court after it was discovered he was part of an international child pornography ring called “the gigatribe”, that shared images.
Bailey – father of 15-monthold twin daughters – and his wife are alleged to have distributed footage of rape, torture and the murder of babies.
This investigation involved the SAPS, the FBI and Belgian police.