While most people go to Gumtree to sell their cars, goods and services, a Pietermaritzburg woman took it too far and advertised a baby for sale on the local classifieds site.
The 20-year-old was arrested in an undercover operation and is in police custody. Hawks Spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they made the arrest after being alerted to the shocking online advert by members of the public.
“We have a cyber crime unit and we constantly check on cyber crime activities, but we also received a tip-off from the public, who were concerned about the ad. We then went on an undercover investigation and contacted the suspect. When we arrived at the meeting place, she gave us the baby and we gave her the R5 000 she was asking for,” he says.
After the exchange the police arrested the suspect. The 19-month-old baby is safe and has been handed over to the Department of Social Development.
“I think there is a misconception that the child belongs to the suspect, but the child does not belong to her, and we are currently investigating and looking for the parents of the child,” Mulaudzi said, adding that there is a possibility that the child may have been stolen.
Although the police say this is the first time a person has sold a child via the internet in SA, Mulaudzi said they have arrested a number of people for selling children in other circumstances. He added that it is extremely disturbing that a person would go online to sell a child.
“We would like to thank the public for alerting us about this incident,” he said.
The suspect will be charged with human trafficking, and because the police are still investigating the case, more charges could be added to the charge sheet.