When he didn’t pay, he started getting threatening SMSes, voicemails and e-mails.
A person over the age of 12 who commits a crime can be held liable for the offence, they said; they threatened to play the call recording in court and seek judgment against the father for the unpaid debt, and have his salary garnished.
I put it to them that the boy in this case clearly sounded under 18. As it turns out, Social Network is not the only such company to be operating out of Uvongo on the South Coast.
Johannesburg - Boys will be boys, so the saying goes, and it seems for some teenage boys that means seeing an advert for a sex chat line – in a newspaper or online – and deciding to make that call.
They assume, naively, the only cost will be that of a cellphone or landline call, but later their parents get a bill reflecting the dirty talk cost around R1.60 a SECOND, for a minimum of 10 minutes.
And then comes the harassment to pay up, followed by threats to charge the boy with fraud – for lying about being over-18 at the start of the call – and to play the recording of the conversation in court, and to seek a civil judgment against the parent for non-payment of the debt.
The big issues in this scenario, aside from the moral ones, are: can parents be held liable for paying for a service obtained by a minor child, and would a court prosecute a minor for fraud under such circumstances?
If not, the call will be charged at R1.65 per second for a minimum time of 10 minutes.