South African mother tries to sell child on Internet

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - A South African mother appeared in court on Friday (Oct 16) charged with trying to sell her 19-month-old baby on the Internet for 5,000 rand (S$523), officials said, after a police sting operation halted her plan.

Police were tipped off that the woman, aged 20, had offered her son for sale on the popular advertising website Gumtree.

"We met her and there was an exchange of money with an undercover police officer," Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for the Hawks special crimes investigation unit, told Agence France-Presse, adding that she was arrested immediately after the money changed hands.

The woman appeared in court in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal province, on human trafficking charges, and her case was adjourned until Oct 26.

"Gumtree South Africa's customer service team was alerted that a young woman had placed an ad on the site advertising a child for sale," company spokeswoman Claire Cobbledick said in a statement.

"The team immediately removed the ad and blocked the user's account. (We) escalated the issue to the corporate office that engages law enforcement on suspected criminal cases."

The child was in good health and has been taken into care by social workers.