'Mama Jackie' guilty of child trafficking

2015-12-01 17:47


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2015-10-08 12:09

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Pretoria - An elderly Diepsloot woman – once praised for her work with Aids orphans in the township – was convicted on charges of child trafficking when she appeared in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Judge Mohamed Ismail found that Jacqueline Ramohlola, better known as Mama Jackie, had sold a baby girl and a 6-year-old boy to a childless couple from KwaMhlanga for R15 000 each in 2012.

The couple testified that they could not have children of their own and had contacted Mama Jackie after reading about her in a newspaper because their previous attempts to adopt a child were not successful.

They thought the adoption was legal and that the money they paid to Mama Jackie's centre was for the children's registration, but they went to the magistrate's court for help when they could not get any legal documents from her.

Ramohlola signed a letter confirming the adoption, but claimed she had been under the impression that it was a "thank you" letter for the donation because she could not read or write.

Judge Ismail rejected Ramohlola's evidence that the couple had told her they were social workers, had donated R30 000 to the centre and then borrowed the children for the holidays.

Ramohlola had tried to portray the mother as sly and hell-bent on getting her into trouble, but the judge said the overwhelming probability was that Ramohlola had engaged in the sale of children by pretending that the social worker needed money to register them.

Ramohlola was further convicted on charges of running an unregistered childcare centre and continuing to take in children despite a High Court interdict to stop her centre in Diepsloot, the Dellfire Care Centre, from operating.

'Court orders are there to be observed'

Orphaned and abandoned children were first removed from the centre in 2010 when the Social Services Department became aware that Ramohlola was running an unregistered orphanage at a place that was not conducive to their care.

Ramohlola was personally informed that she had to register the centre and the police and other role-players were also warned, in her presence, not to place children with her.

The department obtained an interdict against her when she continued her activities.

The interdict was translated to Ramohlola at court and also explained to her by a co-trustee of the centre.

When she was arrested in September last year, the investigating officer found four children – three of them under the age of 3 – at the centre in contravention of the court order.

"There can be no doubt that she knew she could not operate a childcare centre as she was not registered. Notwithstanding, she was driven by her desire to do good and to help children.

"Court orders are there to be observed and stand until they are set aside. If the accused was motivated to do good, she should have sought help to register the centre, rather than to ignore the court order," Ismail said.

The children were removed and three of them were later returned to their guardians.

The fourth child had no parents and was registered under Ramohlola's name. She claimed all the children were family members.

The trial was postponed to January 2016 for a pre-sentencing report.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime  |  child abuse

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