Gerhard Ackerman child sex ring witnesses too traumatised to testify without intermediary

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The case against Gerhard “Gerrie” Ackerman resumed at the Johannesburg High Court, exposing details of a child sex ring case spanning more than a decade.

His co-accused, well-known senior advocate Paul Kennedy, died by suicide on 21 February 2022, a week before he was meant to take the stand.

Kennedy – who was on the counsel at the state capture commission – was accused of running a child sex ring, of being a serial rapist, a child molester and a paedophile.

Child sex ring case continues

The court previously heard how Ackerman, 52, exposed himself to children in public bathrooms and created child pornography.

Ackerman is accused of helping Kennedy lure children for clients, and is also accused of raping and sexually assaulting some of the boys himself.

‘Not guilty’

Ackerman faces more than 700 charges against him, including rape and human trafficking; he pleaded not guilty to all charges on Tuesday.

As reported by The Citizen’s Lunga Mzangwe, the alleged crimes were committed between September 2020 and July 2021.

“He quietly answered Judge Ismail Mahomed when asked to enter his plea to every charge read out by state prosecutor advocate Valencia Dube,” Mzangwe reports.

Judge Mahomed accused Ackerman of exploiting young boys “and luring them to perform sexual acts on adult men”, including the late Kennedy.

READ: Paul Kennedy’s co-accused facing charges of rape, human trafficking

Use of an intermediary

The first state witness, Colonel Kirsten Clark, a SAPS clinical psychologist, returned to the stand on Wednesday to testify on the witnesses’ ability to testify in court and their ability to consent to sexual acts.

Colonel Clark suggested the use of an intermediary to assist when the witnesses deliver their testimonies. It was also suggested that they testify through CCTV.

However, the defence questioned why an intermediary would be required if the witnesses are no longer minors.

Depression and trauma

On Wednesday, Colonel Clark confirmed the use of an intermediary was to provide comfort and support to the witnesses; it would not be to assist in the traditional sense of clarifying questions to minors who might not understand.

Clark also stated the witnesses are vulnerable and show signs of depression and trauma as a result of the abuse, to the extent that “most of the victims could be diagnosed with a psychiatric condition”.

One of the witnesses was 9 years old when he was allegedly abused by Ackerman. He is 24 years old now, and has a generalised anxiety disorder, according to Clark.

She said this witness would benefit from testifying via CCTV.

‘Horrific’ exploitation of children

Meanwhile, the Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) advocacy team in Johannesburg is following the case, describing it as “a serious exploitation of children”.

“The latest charge added was one of attempted murder because the boys who were transported [to gauteng] were hand-delivered to late advocate Paul Kennedy, who was known to Ackerman to be HIV positive”.

WMACA said despite knowing Kennedy’s HIV status, the boys were still forced to “have sexual acts performed on them and for them to be raped“.

“That is why this charge was added. It’s just horrific. Yesterday we couldn’t get through all the charges; it went to 700 charges, and today to 740 charges.”

ALSO READ: Paul Kennedy’s bail ‘a disgrace’ to justice system, says victim’s parent

Facebook luring

As reported by Mzangwe, Ackerman would target minors on social media platforms, including Facebook.

The pair are “also accused of trafficking minor teenagers and sexually grooming them before selling their services to other adult clients for money”.

“In one of the attempted murder charges, the state alleges that Ackerman unlawfully and intentionally attempted to kill a 16-year-old by handing the teen to Kennedy for sexual acts when he knew Kennedy was HIV positive.”

NOW READ: Alleged child sex ring kingpin pleads not guilty to more than 700 charges

The final number of victims who will be testifying will likely be confirmed today. The case continues.

Additional reporting by Lunga Mzangwe and Reitumetse Makwea.

Source: citizen