- A warrant of arrest has been authorised for Gerhard Ackerman, the man accused of running a child sex ring.
- The state sought the warrant as Ackerman has disappeared after failing to pitch up at his trial on Thursday, citing ill health.
- He has since switched off his cellphone and vacated the premises he was living in.
A warrant of arrest had been issued for alleged child sex ring kingpin, Gerhard Ackerman who has gone missing, contravening his bail conditions.
His disappearance came to light when the investigation team went to his residence and found it had been vacated.
Ackerman, 52, was meant to appear in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for the continuation of his trial on Thursday.
The court was set to hear evidence relating to WhatsApp messages and voice notes that Ackerman allegedly sent to clients, including senior advocate and acting Judge Paul Kennedy, who has since taken his own life.
These messages allegedly included descriptions of the child victims and the sexual services rendered, as per the indictment.
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However, Ackerman failed to appear in court and his legal aid attorney Herman Alberts told the court that he had allegedly fallen ill.
Alberts said he had received a message from Ackerman that he had food poisoning and had not slept as a result.
The matter was subsequently postponed to Monday.
NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the accused failed to comply with a court order to furnish the State with a doctor's note on Friday.
"The investigation team, comprising of Captain Banks and Warrant Officer Pelser acted swiftly and visited his place of residence after realising that the accused has become unreachable. On arrival they found that the accused moved out and sold all his movable assets," said Mjonondwane.
Police spent the entirety of Friday trying to track Ackerman down but to no avail.
On Saturday morning, the State headed to court for a warrant of arrest.
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Despite the defence opposing the warrant, arguing that they should wait to see if he appears in court on Monday, the court authorised and signed off on the warrant and his bail of R6000 was officially cancelled.
His bail conditions had required that he report to the nearest police station on a daily basis, not leave Gauteng without permission from the investigating officer, and not be in possession of a laptop or cellphone to access the internet.
Ackerman, who is also known as "Gerrie" is accused of running the child sex ring in Johannesburg between 2019 and 2021.
According to the indictment, Ackerman would allegedly search for teenage boys on Facebook and other social media sites. He would allegedly solicit pornographic videos and images from the child victims and sell them to clients.
Ackerman has also been accused of sexually grooming the victims, trafficking them and teaching them how to perform sexual services, before selling the said services to a list of "clients". Several of the charges state that Ackerman allegedly received money for the services rendered by the teenagers.
- Unlawful possession of child pornography
- Sexual grooming of a minor
- Creation of child pornography
- Human trafficking
- Sexual assault
- Compelled rape
- Attempted murder
Some of the charges state that the crimes were allegedly committed at Kennedy's home, while others were allegedly committed at a place rented by Ackerman, which fronted as a massage parlour, where the teenagers were allegedly sexually exploited.
According to the indictment, Kennedy was not only a client of Ackerman's, but allegedly helped him procure the teenagers for sexual exploitation. In one instance, Kennedy allegedly paid for a bus ticket for one of the teenage boys to travel to Johannesburg.
Kennedy was initially arrested and charged alongside Ackerman for the alleged crimes but died by suicide before the trial started.
Mjonondwane said: "The State will work tirelessly to apprehend Ackerman and welcomes any assistance that the public may provide."