Choir man on sex charges

2008-11-10 00:00

Johannesburg — A former choirmaster from KwaZulu-Natal, who now teaches music on the West Rand, is negotiating a plea bargain with the state. He is facing 54 charges, among them sexual misdemeanours involving minors.

He is expected to plead on these charges early in the new year.

Yesterday, the 49-year-old man, whose name may not be published until he has pleaded due to the sexual nature of the charges, briefly appeared in the Protea Glen Regional Court in Soweto.

Last month a formal charge sheet was served on his legal representative, advocate Faan Pansegrouw.

The charge sheet included charges of indecent assault of minor boys, assault, crimen injuria, sexual assault, as well as the possession and production of child pornography.

Pansegrouw confirmed in court that negotiations for a plea bargain under the Criminal Procedure Act have already begun.

“I wonder if I should make this thing thinner — it’s awfully thick,” magistrate Herman Badenhorst said as he paged through the charge sheet.

The state declined to officially release the document before an agreement is reached.

The man’s appearance in court followed a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) earlier this year that all the cases against him should be centralised and referred to one court.

It was decided to hold the trial in Soweto.

Some of the charges relate to incidents that took place while the man was the choirmaster of a school choir in KwaZulu-Natal.

The incidents took place in the Winterton and Bergville areas.

Other incidents allegedly took place in Rustenburg and Randfontein.

The music teacher was arrested in September last year after a boy who had taken music lessons from him, accused the teacher of molesting him.

In a raid on the man’s house, the police confiscated photographs, DVDs and computer equipment that had been used to produce pornography.

A month later he was released on R2 000 bail under strict conditions.

In February this year he was arrested again for allegedly contacting state witnesses. Bail was not granted this time.

However, in June the Johannesburg High Court granted him bail of R50 000.

The conditions stipulated, among other things, that he may not teach music to children younger than 19 years unless their parents were present, and that he may not contact state witnesses either directly or indirectly.

He may also not travel anywhere unless he has obtained the written permission of the investigating officer.

The case has been postponed until January 20, when the music teacher is expected to plead.

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