Five men have been arrested in Pretoria and Kempton Park for being in possession of child pornography in a wide-scale investigation where local law enforcers worked with US crime forensics experts, police said on Sunday.
One of the suspects is a 62-year-old man who owns a daycare center with his wife, another is a married father of three while two others — aged 30 and 42 — live with their parents. The fifth suspect is a convicted rapist who received a suspended sentence that ends on March 15.
The men were arrested at various properties where police found explicit child abuse material in the form of images and videos, according to police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili.
“Several personal computers, hard drives, flash drives, tablets and cellphones which contain explicit child abuse material (child pornography) were seized during the operation for further investigation and as exhibits,” she said.
The group was apprehended following an intelligence operation conducted by the national police, Gauteng SECI which worked with the US department of homeland security officers — who assisted with their expertise in crime scene forensic analysis — the National Crime Intelligence Cyber Crime Unit and Gauteng Forensic Social Work Services.
They were nabbed during an operation code-named “Moonlight” between February 10 and 14.
Police said the first arrest was that of a 30-year-old man in Rietfontein, Pretoria, on February 10. Investigations showed he was staying with his parents. He appeared in the Pretoria magistrate’s court and was granted bail. His case was postponed to March 12.
On the same day, police arrested a 42-year-old man in Claremont, Pretoria. “He is a married father of three,” said Muridili. He has also appeared in court and his case was postponed to February 28.
On February 11, the team apprehended a 62-year-old man. “He is a married pensioner who owns a daycare center which is managed by his wife,” police said.
He appeared at the Roodepoort magistrate’s court and his case was remanded to February 17.
On February 13, police arrested a 42-year-old man in Daspoort, Pretoria, where he lives with his parents. He has also appeared in court and he will appear again on April 8.
The last suspect was a 34-year-old man with a previous conviction for rape at Kempton Park. “He has a previous conviction of rape and sexual assault for which he received a five-year suspended sentence that will end on March 15, 2020,” said police.
He is expected to appear at the Kempton Park magistrate’s court on Monday.
A search warrant for a sixth suspect was executed in Garsfontein, Pretoria, but the man was not arrested as no material was found at his premises. Police said 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 April 20, 2020,” said Muridili.
Police said all the suspects were released on R5,000 bail. They cannot be named as the police are still conducting thorough investigations and cannot rule out the possibility that some of the children in the confiscated material might be South African and therefore their identity has to be protected.
Lt-Gen Tebello Mosikili applauded the arrests, adding that the operation was continuing countrywide.
“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.
Police have urged parents to exercise strict measures to ensure their children do not fall prey to sexual predators lurking on the internet.
“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 utilizing [them],” added Muridili.