- A discovery of pictures on a website run by South Africans showing nude photographs of young girls from Soweto, has prompted a fresh investigation on alleged rife abuse of children in the country.
The South African Afrikaans-language 'Beeld' newspaper reported today that girls as young as nine have been found on a website hosted by South Africans.
The newspaper reported a local child protection official saying the photos had captions that even gave the names of the girls, their surnames, places of birth and the dates on which the photos had been taken.
Goodness Zulu, head of the Film and Publication Board's child protection unit, said the girls were all between nine and 13 years old and that one of the photographs was dated as recent as 8 November 2008.
"About two weeks ago we received a tip-off from a member of the public on our anti-pornography website. We reported the matter to the police and when we checked on Monday, the website had already been shut down," she said.
Follow ups on the site - two of them have been hosted abroad - are however said to have failed as police and officials found it had already been closed upon their arrival.
The official said investigations were nonetheless continuing, with more being dug out. She alleged that in some instances, young children were enticed with promises of cellphones (mobiles), airtime and money in exchange for posing naked for a photograph.
"Our children are very vulnerable. Some are orphans, but they still would like to have a cellphone," said Ms Zulu, adding: "During the festive season children use the internet and their cellphones more often. This is the time that paedophiles are looking for children, and they use online chatrooms and MXit to get to them."
The South African children protection official further said the Film and Publication Board was also busy with preparations to handle the expected increase in the manufacturing and distribution of child pornography during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The newspaper reported her saying that, in the last couple of months there had been about 3,000 Google searches for child pornography in South Africa.
"We realise paedophiles are going to abuse the opportunity to make and distribute child pornography. They think all eyes will be on the soccer and they won't be caught out. But we are putting strategies in place to put a stop to that."
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