BEGGARS with babies or young children to tug at motorists' heartstrings are a familiar sight at busy intersections in cities across South Africa.
But a cynical twist to this trade is the recent appearance of teams of healthy young men with infants in tow at every corner of busy intersections.
Motorists have noted a recent influx of young men in their late teens or early 20s parading small children around traffic lights at the corner of Hendrick Potgieter and Pieter roads in Ruimsig, Roodepoort. Kids as young as three brave the cold weather to panhandle for their older companions.
Two months ago, two youngsters were kidnapped in Soweto and taken to Ruimsig to beg before police tracked down the boys and returned them to their families.
"People generally feel sorry for beggars with children so they give them more money than they would give to an older person who operates alone," said local resident Brent Foster.
"Because of this, many children who are meant to be in school stand at traffic lights and ask for money."
But 10-year-old Bradley Stuart, who plies his trade in Melville said: "I don't go to school, instead I come here to get money for my sick mother."