The Hawks have launched an investigation into an image on Facebook in which a white man with a rifle poses over the apparently lifeless body of a black child – like a hunter celebrating his kill.
The undated picture is on the social networking site in the profile of a user called “Eugene Terrorblanche”, a play on the name of the murdered leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB). As of yesterday, “Terrorblanche” had 590 “friends”.
While it is not known if the photograph is genuine or has been manipulated, a child protection charity has expressed concern for the well being of the youngster.
The search is now on for the person or persons responsible for the picture, for whoever created the user profile and for those who have seen the photograph but failed to report it.
The authorities have suggested that everyone party to the posting – including those who have seen the picture – could face prosecution and, if convicted, a jail sentence.
This is regardless of whether the picture is faked.
Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, said his boss had ordered an “immediate investigation” and called on the man in the picture – or anyone who recognised him – to come forward to assist in the probe.
Mnisi said: “If, indeed, it reflects a real incident, those responsible must be severely punished.”
The investigation was sparked when the Sunday Times presented the link to the site to the authorities.
Child advocacy groups said the production and dissemination of the picture violated several laws, including the Children’s Act, the Films and Publications Act and the Criminal Procedure Act.
Hawks spokesman Colonel McIntosh Polela said “no words can describe the disgust I’m feeling”, while Kidz Clinics advocacy manager Germaine Vogel called the picture “abominable”…
The director of Women + Men Against Child Abuse, Miranda Jordan, said she found it “incredibly disturbing” not knowing whether the child in the picture was hurt or dead.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing … this is sickening and disgusting. Is this child hurt? Is he dead? Who would take this kind of picture?
“This hate image incites racism that almost all South Africans have fought so hard to eradicate,” shesaid.
Those who commented favourably on the image could be charged and held accountable, she said.
“Anyone living in South Africa who has viewed this image of an abused child and has not reported it can be charged under the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, which stipulates that, as a witness to the abuse of a child, you must report it to your nearest police station.”
Experts said it would be difficult to confirm the photo’s authenticity, but the authorities were hopeful someone would recognise the adult in the image…