Hawks bust MXit child porn ring

2011-08-13 17:33

An ex-cop was arrested this week after the Hawks cracked open what they believed to be a national child-porn ring using mobile social network MXit to distribute material.

City Press confirmed the 38-year-old former cop was arrested in Joburg on Thursday on suspicion of producing graphic nude photographs of children.

The man – whose identity was being withheld to protect his own children and who was still to be charged – was allegedly at the helm of a child-porn production and distribution ring with tentacles spreading from Nelspruit to Joburg and Durban.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela confirmed the suspect had left police employment seven years ago and the Hawks had been on his trail for two-and-a-half months.

“The pictures we found were very explicit,” Polela said.

It’s believed the man was arrested as he was preparing to flee the country, but investigators who had him under close surveillance for at least a week moved in quickly to thwart his departure.

Polela confirmed that the Hawks investigation had followed a tip-off from a member of the public who allegedly met the suspect on MXit.

A source close to the investigation said the suspect allegedly befriended users of the “Thirty-something” chat-room on MXit.

After chatting for a couple of hours, he’d establish a one-on-one connection and allegedly offered pictures of young girls.

MXit reacted with disgust.

“These kinds of things go against the grain of what MXit is about,” said Juan du Toit, MXit’s international business development director and marketing head.

“It’s Africa’s largest mobile social network, with more than 40 million registered users and serious goals to do social good.”

The departments of energy and education, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organisation, Childline and a number of local and global non-governmental organisations used MXit to counsel young adults.

“We really are doing everything in our power to stamp out this kind of behaviour,” Du Toit said.

The suspect will appear in court tomorrow.

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