Mother tells of ‘porno’ SMSes

2011-08-20 00:00

AFTER The Witness disclosed the identity of alleged child porn suspect Andre Stephen Botha this week, a woman came forward to tell the Hawks that he had targeted her daughter, then aged 14, six years ago.

She also volunteered to view the explicit pictures of children for which Botha is being charged, in case she is able to identify and link them to parents within her circle of friends. “I have to do this. It’s so horrible, I may know these children,” she said.

Botha (38) a former policeman from Bellair police station in Hillary, was charged this week for allegedly distributing graphic sexual pictures of children aged between four and 10 via social network MXit.

The woman told a Hawks investigator, who interviewed her at her workplace, that “Andre, his ex-wife and I have been friends since school days”.

“Six years ago, we would socialise together in a close circle of buddies — my daughter was 14 years old at the time.”

The woman, who requested anonymity, said the group would go down to a pub in the Bluff and every so often play a round of golf, and were familiar with each others’ families.

“My daughter downloaded MXit for him at a braai one day and then started receiving inappropriate SMSes from a strange number. She told me she didn’t know who they were from, so I printed them out,” she said.

They read “Are you alone?” “So are you a virgin? “Is anyone reading this SMS other than you?” “What naughty games do you like to play?”.

“My suspicions immediately turned to Andre, since I was aware that he was using different numbers, and when I asked the bar lady to give me all his numbers, one number checked out,” she said.

The woman then apparently approached Botha, who initially denied any communication with her daughter.

“When I told him I had his number, he changed his tune,” she said.

“He said he had been drunk and had confused my daughter for someone else he had met. I didn’t buy the story,” she said.

Botha’s pregnant wife at the time denied that her husband was capable of such behaviour when approached with the complaint, but after looking at the printed transcripts, started distancing herself from her husband and finally divorced him.

“A few months later Andre would log onto a MXit chatroom with the username Hayden and tell my daughter: ‘Don’t tell mum you’re chatting to me on MXit’, and ‘Does mum know you’re chatting to me?’.”

Trembling and sobbing with regret, the woman said she should have done something sooner to spare the other children what they had endured.

Hawks members told the mother, that thanks to her, they now have a stronger case against him.

Investigating officer Jason Reddy, of the Hawks search-and-seizure unit, said the break in the investigation has taken the case to beyond six years ago and that the number children who might have fallen victim to the accused is worrying.

He said it seems that some of the children in images and videos on Botha’s confiscated phone have been drugged and made to perform obscene and explicit acts.

Meanwhile, Botha has been denied bail at Welkom Magistrate’s Court and will return to Westville Prison to await his next court appearance at Durban Magistrate’s Court.

Reddy believes Botha is linked to a larger child pornography syndicate operating in Nelspruit, Durban and Johannesburg and that more arrests are imminent.

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