Young people under the age of 18 were warned that taking pornographic images – even of yourself – and sending it to someone, could lead to both the sender and receiver being sentenced up to five years imprisonment for each clip or image on their devices.
This was revealed at a dialogue the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, had with pupils from Mount View, Groenvlei, Manenberg and Crystal High schools on Monday July 15.
The event was held at Mount View High School in Hanover Park.
Advocate Deon Ruiters, who was part of the panel engaging with the pupils, said as a prosecutor, he had come across many young people with child pornography charges against them, who said that they did not know what they were doing was illegal.
“It’s so dangerous to have these kinds of photographs on your cellphones. One never knows where it can land up if you send it to someone else. Don’t send your boyfriend or girlfriend provocative pictures. Smart phones come with a lot of responsibilities, as it could land you into trouble for cyber bullying or child pornography,” Mr Ruiters said.
The dialogue focused on challenges faced by young people, such as gangsterism, drug abuse, cyber bullying and sexual violence.
Those on the panel included Major General Andre Lincoln from the SAPS Anti-Gang Unit, Advocate Deidre Rossouw, the acting regional head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Ashika Singh, motivational speaker and former gangster, Lwazi Ntshata, and James Olifant from Victory Outreach rehabilitation centre.
Aiden Arendse, a Grade 10 pupil at Manenberg High, asked why it was necessary to deploy the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to gang-infested communities, as he felt their presence might just create more violence.
Major General Lincoln explained to him that the SANDF presence was to bolster support to SAPS, and not to “dish out violence”.
Other pupils raised concerns about their safety going to and coming from school, and asked if they could be protected by the Anti-Gang Unit.
In response, Major General Lincoln said: “In the Anti-Gang Unit, we do not provide protection. We are interactive with pupils. We understand how difficult it is for you living under those circumstances. We believe in working with the community and forming partnerships with other government departments, but the community must also take responsibility to take care of our children. Violence should not be the norm for children.”
He pleaded with the young people not to “fall into the trap of gangsterism”, because it is easy to join a gang, but difficult to get out of it.
When more questions arose about child pornography and the Film and Publications Act, Mr Jeffery reiterated what Mr Ruiters had said: “Don’t take those kinds of photos, and don’t allow anybody else to take photos like that of you. Don’t run the risk of it being spread on social media. Apart from the criminal side, it can come back to bite you later – like when you apply for a job and your potential employer comes across images like that of you on social media.”
Ms Rossouw also cautioned the pupils that even when both individuals involved in a statutory rape case were minors, they could both still be criminally charged.
She added that up to 90% of rape cases her office dealt with, the perpetrator was known to the complainant.
All the speakers urged the pupils to make good choices, even though their circumstances might be tough. The dialogue ended off on a high note for the young people, when they were entertained by rapper, Youngsta CPT.
The Anti-Gang Unit’s toll-free number is 0800 66 42 64.