Child sex ring: Case against top advocate and co-accused postponed

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(Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)
(Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)
  • A senior advocate and his co-accused face more than 700 charges relating to rape, sexual assault, human trafficking, and child pornography.
  • The case has been postponed to deal with two applications brought by the State. 
  • The one application involves the disclosure of the alleged child pornography.

The legal team for a well-known senior advocate facing multiple charges of rape, sexual assault, and possession of child pornography, has successfully argued against the State, moving an application related to disclosure on Friday. 

The 63-year-old advocate and his 53-year-old co-accused, who cannot be named in terms of the Sexual Offences Act until they have pleaded to the charges, appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.

State prosecutor Valencia Dube attempted to bring an application before the court relating to the disclosure of evidence pertaining to the child pornography charges. 

Dube explained to the court that they could not hand over the videos to defence counsel, but were prepared to accommodate them in organising a venue for the videos to be viewed. 

She placed on record that advocate Mike Hellens SC had said that the arrangement did not suit him, which is why she wanted the court to give guidance and put the issue to rest.

Before being able to finish, Dube was interrupted by advocate Piet Du Plessis, who was standing in for Hellens. 

Du Plessis told the court that he had no problem with the State bringing the application, but that the court appearance was set down for pre-trial issues.

READ | Top advocate's co-accused in child sex ring case previously charged with sexually assaulting boy, 11

He added that the defence had only been informed on Friday morning of the application and that they had not received a formal notice. 

Du Plessis asked the court not to deal with the application on an informal basis. 

He was also of the opinion that the manner in which the State had brought the application was unfair to the defence, and only designed to play to the media. 

Dube denied this by saying she had to place the reasons for applications on record so that the court could make a determination. 

The court ruled that the application should be moved formally, with a founding affidavit.

A second application pertaining to blood samples being taken will also be decided on Monday, after a meeting between the State and defence teams.

Charges 

According to the final indictment, the advocate and his co-accused face over 700 charges between the two of them, including hundreds of counts relating to child pornography, multiple counts of rape, sexual assault, and human trafficking. 

The advocate has been charged with three separate counts of rape.

He was also charged with "compelled rape" where he alleged forced one of the victims to have intercourse with an unknown person as he watched. 

READ | Top advocate allegedly used social media to find teenage boys, then paid them for lewd videos

The advocate was also charged with four counts of sexual assault, sexual assault, charges of compelled sexual assault, sexual exploitation of children, the sexual grooming of children, benefitting of the services of a child victim of trafficking, financing, controlling or organising the trafficking of a child victim. 

According to the State, the advocate had 25 images of child pornography on his cellphone and laptop. He has been accused of creating child pornography with at least one of the victims. 

The advocate's co-accused faces hundreds of charges relating to the unlawful possession of child pornography.

According to the State, the co-accused had 253 videos of child pornography on his cellphone and an additional 386 images on his laptop. He has also been accused of creating and distributing child pornography.

READ | Child sex ring: Indictment paints picture of advocate's involvement in trafficking, grooming victims

The co-accused has also been charged with multiple counts of human trafficking and the sexual grooming of children. 

It is alleged that he facilitated arrangements for the victims to travel to Johannesburg, where the boys were allegedly raped and sexually assaulted. 

According to the indictment, the advocate's co-accused would also groom the children to perform sexual acts on older "clients" that he would secure.

"Accused one [advocate's co-accused] arranged the clients and schedules of clients that the children would service daily at his residence," the indictment read. 

"The accused one would take a certain percentage of the money for himself that these clients would pay to the children for sexual acts."

The case has been postponed to Monday.


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