Pretoria child porn accused get bail

2011-11-17 21:31

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Pretoria - Eight members of a Pretoria family who face a string of charges ranging from sexually assaulting children to making child pornography have been granted bail.

They launched an appeal in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria after a Pretoria North magistrate refused them bail almost a year ago.

Judge Francis Legodi granted them R15 000 bail each on Thursday.

They have to report to the Hercules police station twice a day and may not leave the Pretoria North district without the investigating officer's permission.

They may also not contact or communicate with any of the State witnesses, including the six young children who were removed from their care and placed in safe custody last year.

The 58-year-old grandfather, allegedly one of the main players in a child pornography syndicate, earlier withdrew his bail bid and would remain in custody.

The four couples and the unmarried son of one of the couples were to go on trial in the Pretoria North Regional Court early in December on over a hundred charges under the Sexual Offences Act.

The charges include raping and sexually assaulting minor children, sexually grooming children, exposing children to pornography and benefiting from child pornography.

The State opposed bail, saying the accused were likely to evade their trial. Because there was a strong case against them, they might interfere with State witnesses and might commit crimes again, the State argued.

Legodi said the State did not seriously seek to argue that the accused were a flight risk. Most of them had never been outside the country and they did not have passports.

None of them had previous convictions or other pending cases against them and the police knew where they lived.

It appeared that the State intended to rely on the evidence of very young children at the trial, which suggested that it was not in for a very easy ride.

If the children's evidence collapsed, the State would be bound to rely on circumstantial evidence based on expert witnesses.

This might not be an easy mountain to climb, the judge said.

"I am satisfied that the applicants... succeeded in showing that they are not a flight risk," the judge said.

"Other than the offences they are presently facing they had been law abiding citizens and thus dispelling the idea of reoffending (and) that their incarceration would deprive them of earning a living."

- SAPA
Read more on:    child abuse
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