Child sex ring: Ackerman's laundry list of alleged crimes against children span over a decade

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Gerhard Ackerman, who is facing hundreds of charges relating to a child sex ring, seen before his court appearance.
Gerhard Ackerman, who is facing hundreds of charges relating to a child sex ring, seen before his court appearance.
PHOTO: Alex Mitchley/News24
  • Gerhard Ackerman, who is accused of running a child sex ring has pleaded not guilty to 740 charges.
  • These charges include possession of child pornography, rape, human trafficking, sexual grooming of a child and sexual assault.
  • According to the indictment, his alleged crime spree spans more than a decade.

From exposing himself to children in public bathrooms, creating child pornography, and raping a minor, to running a child sex ring in Johannesburg, the crimes Gerhard "Gerrie" Ackerman has been accused of span more than a decade.

Ackerman, 52, appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday where he finished pleading to the 740 charges against him.

News24 reported on Monday that the charges were so voluminous that Ackerman was unable to plead to all of them in a single day.

Standing in the dock, Ackerman quietly pleaded not guilty to all charges, which included:

  • 639 counts of unlawful possession of child pornography.
  • Two counts of unlawful creation of child pornography.
  • Two counts of unlawful importing or procuring of child pornography.
  • One count of unlawful distribution of child pornography.
  • One count of unlawful transactions facilitating the distribution of child pornography.
  • Five counts of human trafficking.
  • Three counts of benefitting from the services of a child victim of trafficking.
  • Two counts of allowing a premises to be used to facilitate trafficking in persons.
  • One count of distributing information that facilitates or promotes trafficking in persons.
  • Four counts of conduct that facilitates trafficking.
  • Seven counts of rape.
  • Seven counts of sexual assault.
  • One count of compelled rape.
  • One count of compelled sexual assault.
  • Eleven counts of sexual exploitation of children.
  • Three counts of furthering the sexual exploitation of a child.
  • Three counts of benefitting from the sexual exploitation of a child.
  • Eighteen counts of the sexual grooming of children.
  • Five counts of exposure or display of genital organs to children.
  • Five counts of using children for or benefitting from child pornography.
  • One count of malicious damage to property.
  • Three counts of attempted murder.

After he finished pleading, Ackerman's legal-aid attorney Herman Alberts said that his client would not be giving a plea explanation.

Before the trial started on Tuesday, Ackerman expressed his unhappiness to News24 about the publication of his name and picture. Ackerman felt that the case should only be reported on if he was found guilty. 

Charges breakdown

The charges he is facing mostly relate to a child sex ring he allegedly ran with the involvement of senior advocate and acting judge Paul Kennedy – who died by suicide before the trial started – between 2019 and 2021. However, Ackerman’s alleged crime spree, as detailed in the indictment, started in 2007.

According to the indictment, in December 2007, at or near the ATKV Hartenbos camping site in the Western Cape, Ackerman allegedly exposed himself to a nine-year-old boy and his seven-year-old brother. Two years later, he allegedly exposed himself to the brothers again.

READ | The many cases against the man charged alongside Paul Kennedy, accused of running a child sex ring

In July 2018, Ackerman then allegedly exposed himself to an 11-year-old boy and masturbated while recording the incident at a swimming school in Sunninghill.

After being confronted by employees at the swimming school, Ackerman allegedly fled in a vehicle, damaging the boom gate at the entrance.

While not linked to this trial, during this same period, Ackerman also allegedly forced an 11-year-old boy to touch his genitals in a public bathroom at an upmarket country club in Johannesburg.

Gerhard Ackerman
Gerhard Ackerman
Gerhard Ackerman

The child had gone to the country club to play a hockey match.

Ackerman is currently also on trial in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court where he has been charged with four counts of sexual assault.

While the charges around the swimming pool incident were withdrawn at the time, Ackerman was on bail in the sexual assault case when he allegedly started committing crimes relating to the sex ring.

List of 'clients'

The indictment paints a picture of a child sex ring, where Ackerman would allegedly find young boys, traffic them, sexually groom them, and then sell them for sexual services to a list of "clients".

According to the indictment, he found the boys on Facebook and other social media platforms.

READ | Child sex ring case: Accused pleads not guilty to more than 700 charges

Ackerman would allegedly request pornographic images and videos from the children and sometimes paid them for the content. These would reportedly be distributed to his clients, including Kennedy.

Ackerman also allegedly trafficked the children, ensuring they were brought to Johannesburg where he is accused of grooming them to perform sexual acts and massages on his clients.

In one instance, he allegedly paid for an Uber ride for one of the children and Kennedy is said to have paid for a bus ticket for another alleged victim.

The indictment reads:

The accused arranged and made appointments for his clients and the children would have to perform lewd sexual acts upon payment on these male clients at his residence and/or at the residence of the client.

"The accused, the late accused 2, Paul Kennedy, and/or other clients would themselves engage in lewd sexual acts with the children."

Ackerman is also accused of taking a percentage, and sometimes all the money, from the clients who paid for the sexual services of the child victims.

Child pornography

When Ackerman was arrested in July 2021, he was allegedly found in possession of hundreds of videos and images of child pornography.

The indictment states that 253 videos were found on a cellphone in his possession, while a further 386 images and videos were found on a laptop in his possession.

The images are said to contain unknown children, who appear to be under the age of 18, posing naked or semi-naked and engaged in sexual acts.

Kennedy was also allegedly found in possession of child pornography.

Ackerman has also been accused of creating and distributing child pornography.

Kennedy was arrested and charged alongside Ackerman for the crimes allegedly committed between 2019 and 2021.

In the first indictment, Kennedy was charged with rape, sexual assault, human trafficking and compelled rape after he allegedly forced one of the teenagers to have intercourse with an unknown person while he watched.

News24 reported that in February last year, just a week before having to appear in the High Court, Kennedy died by suicide in his Johannesburg home.

READ | Paul Kennedy’s co-accused in child sex ring case revealed in court

A week earlier, the court had ordered that both accused undergo testing for HIV after one of the alleged victims tested positive for the virus.

Following his death, the charges were dropped against Kennedy and the indictment was amended.

However, according to the indictment put to Ackerman on Monday, he will have to answer for Kennedy's alleged crimes.

Advocate Paul Kennedy seen in court during a trial
People who knew advocate Paul Kennedy are struggling to reconcile the man they knew with the crimes he was accused of.
Gallo Images
Paul Kennedy seen working in court during trial
Advocate Paul Kennedy, accused of child sex trafficking and rape, died by suicide.
Gallo Images (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Craig Nieuwenhuizen)

This is because of the doctrine of common purpose, whereby two accused can be held responsible for each other's acts that fall within their common purpose while committing the crimes.

The State has charged Ackerman with the crimes allegedly committed by Kennedy because he unlawfully and intentionally assisted and/or encouraged Kennedy to commit the crimes by arranging a meeting and presenting the teenagers to Kennedy.

The trial against Ackerman was expected to continue on Wednesday.

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