It is a criminal offense to steal and to trade in human tissue. This applies in most counties in the world where legislation has now been widened to include DNA theft. In South Africa these crimes often take a different turn because human organs can be used for traditional medicine or muti. In this Justicia case, a whistle blower alerted  the client that human placentas from the client’s hospital were being sold at a taxi rank. The Theft and Trade in Human Tissue After receiving an anonymous tip from a whistle blower, a client contacted Justicia Investigations. It was alleged that staff at the client’s hospital were stealing human tissue, specifically placentas, from the Maternity Ward.  The whistle blower stated that placentas were being illegally removed from the hospital’s medical waste and sold to an unknown person at a taxi rank in town. The whistle blower was too afraid to mention the names of the perpetrators. Discussed with SAPS Organised Crime Unit It had been agreed with the client that, if the allegations were found to be true, a criminal case would need to be reported.  The allegations had been discussed with the SAPS Organized Crime Unit and a decision was made to infiltrate a Justicia Investigations undercover agent into the scenario in order to establish whether the allegations were in fact true. Undercover Agent Obtains Video Footage The undercover agent was infiltrated into a designated area and immediately established a relationship with the people working in the targeted area.  Within a few days the agent confirmed that there was talk of a certain employee at the hospital who illegally removes placentas and sells them. The agent was positioned within the organisation to work closely with the suspect. The agent obtained video footage using of a covert camera, showing the suspect removing a placenta and placing it in a container that was later removed from the hospital. It was decided not to act at this stage as it could have been a test for the agent. A week later the suspect confided in the agent during a drink after work. The suspect explained to the agent that he knew he could trust him as the suspect was aware that the agent knew what was going on. DPP Authorises Operation to Continue After discussing this information with police detectives it was agreed that the undercover agent needed to obtain more insight into the suspect’s operation. The problem was that by doing so, he might incriminate himself. In order for the operation to proceed and for sufficient evidence to be obtained for a criminal conviction, the agent had to receive indemnity against prosecution.  The covert footage and a sworn affidavit on the agent’s findings were submitted to the District Public Prosecutor.  Based on the evidence before him, the DPP then authorised the operation to continue. The agent later witnessed the suspect placing a stolen placenta in a bag to be removed from the hospital. The agent notified the investigators and the sting operation was set up with police detectives. The suspect was apprehended shortly after leaving the hospital in possession of a placenta. The agent remained in the employ of the hospital for a period to make sure no other staff members were involved in similar activities. Thanks to the expertise of all involved, the employee was convicted in a criminal court and dismissed from the hospital. (Andre Visser, Head of Justicia covert operations, commented on the effectiveness of the teamwork between private and police detectives resulting in this conviction.)