Civic vows to unmask child sex traffickers in Parklands

Sanco members protested outside the Table View police station last year, calling for the authorities to arrest men who were allegedly exploiting teenage girls for sex in Parklands.

A civic group says it will not rest until it has found those behind an alleged child sex trafficking ring in Parklands.

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) says it is compiling evidence for the police after a media report last week claimed a primary school teacher had uncovered a sex ring.

According to the report, published by the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, the teacher first realised something was wrong when one of the girls in her Grade 1 class came in “smelling of sex”.

According to the teacher, this was on a Wednesday in 2019, and the following day, the girl’s sister, who was in a different class, said she couldn’t sit down because her vagina was sore.

“We asked who was hurting them, but we were struggling to understand them. They’re from Zimbabwe, and their English isn’t very good,” writes the teacher, whose name is withheld in the article.

The teacher says they alerted social services, but when they didn’t come out straight away, the girls were allowed to go home with their father’s cousin who usually picked them up.

But the following day, the school refused to let the children leave, and instead, the teachers stayed with the girls until 5pm, waiting for social services to arrive. The teachers were unable to contact the girls’ parents as they were both working in Zimbabwe.

The teacher writes that the school had to let the girls go after their uncle, the girls’ legal guardian, went to the police station to complain that the school was keeping them unlawfully.

Later when social services visited the girls’ house, there was no one there, but four days later, the girls were found living at a different house.

“There were more children from our school living there. Men would come to the house, and they could rent a room — and a body. It turned out the father’s cousin was the mastermind behind the whole thing, but there were so many other people involved,” writes the teacher.

“The children were taken to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. The doctors found signs of sexual abuse. They were sent into protective custody and a legal case was opened against their father’s cousin, but he just ran away.”

The teacher says she left the school after that because she felt nobody cared.

“The school failed, the police failed, social workers failed. Nobody gave a damn that there was a house in Parklands where you could rent a room and a baby for the night.”

Red Cross Hospital War Memorial Children’s spokeswoman Danielle Cargnelutti, told Tabletalk that “Due to the nature of the allegations, the hospital is unable to comment at this stage.”

Table View police spokeswoman Captain Adriana Chandler said the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit had no record of a case being reported.

Buntu Gwija, Sanco’s provincial co-ordinator, said they would make sure the perpetrators were brought to book.

Mr Gwija and Sanco led protests last year calling for the authorities to arrest men who were allegedly exploiting teenage girls for sex in Parklands (“Teens snared in Parklands sex ring – Sanco,” Tabletalk, May 25, 2022).

“We are worried about how this community seems to be the target for traffickers – whether it’s drugs, human or sex trafficking,” he said. “With regards to this latest incident, we have done our own digging, trying to find out all the parties involved. We know the identity of the children – information we can’t give for obvious reasons. We are close to also finding out who the suspects are. After that, we will hand all of our information to the police.”