Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulates News24 on its story, “FBI tracks down Cape Town mom who allegedly sold naked pics of her daughter, 4” (27/07/2021). This is because the story which is written by Nicole McCain withholds the child’s direct and indirect identity to protect her from further potential harm.

The story for which MMA awards a GLAD[1] reports about a mother in Cape Town who allegedly sold naked pictures of her daughter aged four years on the internet. According to the article, it was through a partnership between the South African police and the United States “authorities” that the woman was traced and arrested.   The story goes on to report that for safety reasons, the child has been put in a safe home until the case is heard in a court of law.

MMA commends News24 for protecting the identity of the child in the story. By not naming the child or her mother, the journalist is in line with the Criminal Procedure Act which states the following, “No person shall publish in any manner whatever any information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused under the age of 18 years or of a victim or of a witness at criminal proceedings who is under the age of 18 years.”[2]

MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media were also adhered to by the journalist. The guidelines urge the media stating, “In all stories where identifying the child may cause harm, be sure to avoid indirect identification of the child through showing family, a school, residence, friends or a combination thereof.”[3]

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that News24 also adhered to the Press Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media[4] which in its Section 8.3 deals with the protection of identities of children who have been victims of abuse or exploitation.

For the reason that MMA values the views of children in all the stories involving them, we shared this article with our 2021 Web rangers . The web rangers are a group of children who champion safer use of the internet by fighting digital ills which include the publishing online of child sexual abuse material.

This is what one of the children whose name is known to MMA had to say about the article, “I feel like it was a good thing that the child wasn’t identified, as it protects his/her identity in the long run. It also makes it difficult for people to track the child down in case the people that run these sites are dangerous.”

MMA hopes that News24 will continue to practice this kind of good journalism when reporting on matters that involve children. Well done!

Written by Jacques Ndong

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] GLAD’s are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them

[2] See Section 154 (3) of the criminal procedure Act 51 of 1997

[3] (Page 6)