Child porn rife in SA

28 October 2013 - 02:29 By GRAEME HOSKEN

As investigations intensify into what is thought to be South Africa's biggest child porn ring, Interpol has warned that it is unlikely to be the only one operating in the country.

Six suspects were arrested in August and 70 more have been identified in the past two months.

Though he refused to be drawn on the specifics of the investigation, Interpol's human trafficking and child exploitation head, Michael Moran, said: "What you are seeing in South Africa now is what other countries saw a few years ago - and what more countries will see in the future."

The six people arrested - a teacher, two school principals, a dermatologist, a businessman and a lawyer - face charges of manufacturing child pornography.

They are accused of purchasing child porn from an international paedophile ring operating in Canada, the US, Europe and Australasia.

Moran, speaking at a media briefing at Interpol's annual general meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, last week, said there was "definitely" a large number of paedophile rings operating in South Africa.

"They are not necessarily as big, but they are there and they are active, very active. The reality is that these individuals and groups are everywhere, in every single country, and they are definitely in South Africa.

"It is now a matter of catching them. This type of crime requires [huge] resources to stop."

Moran said that though South African police were trying their best to arrest members of child porn rings they faced an uphill battle.

"Unfortunately there are more cases than resources - that is the sad fact. There is definitely no decline in such cases.

"We need to be asking who these people are and where they come from.

"Are they neighbours, friends, relatives? The vast majority of these perpetrators appear to be regular guys, just like you and me - school teachers, sports coaches, businessmen."

Moran said most of the rings' victims were under 10 years old.

"This is a massive problem. What we see, not only in South Africa, but across the world, is no more than the tip of the iceberg.

Every year, globally, we receive hundreds of such cases and the numbers continue to rise."

Moran said it was impossible to give exact figures on the number of children being abused.

"It is a hidden crime, incredibly hard to identify and even harder to stop. It is an incredibly lucrative business.

"These groups use the latest technology not only to commit their crimes but also to stay ahead of law enforcement, forcing us at Interpol to adapt our strategies, and use and exploit the technology, in turn, to stop these people."

Interpol has established a hi-tech policing centre in Singapore in its "new war" against global multi-billion-dollar organised crime syndicates.

Among its many initiatives, the centre is considering developing improved voice-recognition technology.

Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble said: "If state-of-the-art tools are needed, we will deliver, and if they do not exist we will design them from scratch.

"If vital information is needed we will 'drag' our network to the front-lines of policing.

"If officers need special skills, we will train them."

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