An East London, South Africa mother has been nabbed for allegedly cruelly selling her 13-year-old daughter with Down syndrome and her 15-year-old son to two shopkeepers for sexual exploitation.

The East London Hawks Crime Investigation team and King William’s Town K9 Unit arrested three suspects allegedly involved in the extended human trafficking incident on Wednesday, May 26, reported News24.

The three suspects, two men and the mother, aged 32, 36, and 42 respectively, reportedly abused and exploited a 13-year-old girl, who suffers from Down syndrome, and a 15-year-old boy, between February 2019 and March 2021, said South African Police Service (SAPS) Spokesperson Captain Yolisa Mgolodela.

“It is alleged that during the period, the arrested female who is a mother of the 13-year-old who suffers from Down syndrome, sold her (daughter) and a 15-year-old boy to the male suspects who are shop owners in Keiskammahoek, for sexual exploitation,” Mgolodela said in a statement.

Law enforcement said the girl could not provide them with enough information regarding her own sale, but the 15-year-old boy testified that he was sold for 450 South Africa Rand (US$33).

According to TimesLIVE, the situation was reported to The East London Hawks by concerned neighbors. The three suspects have been arrested and charged with trafficking in persons. They are set to face the Keiskamahoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday, May 28, reported The South African.

Economically upturned South Africa has presented the ideal climate for human trafficking to flourish. The annual U.S. Trafficking in Persons Reports has classified South Africa as a country of origin, transit, and destination for high-volume human trafficking operations in the past decade.

Victims are often trafficked from South Africa to other countries for cheap labor and even sexual exploitation. At least 2,132 trafficking cases were reported to the SAPS between 2015 to 2017, the authorities said.

Human trafficking has been a criminal offense in the country only since Aug. 9, 2015, when the nation's Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act first came into effect.

“Since trafficking in persons is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight, it is important to be aware of its warning signs,” said SAPS.

A mother who allegedly sold her 13-year-old daughter with Down syndrome and her 15-year-old son for sexual exploitation has been arrested along with the two shopkeepers to who she sold them. This is a representational image. PIXABAY

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