Child sex ring: Man facing 740 charges objects to victims using intermediary during testimony

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Gerhard Ackerman.
Gerhard Ackerman.
Alex Mitchley
  • Gerhard Ackerman has pleaded not guilty to 740 charges relating to a child sex ring he allegedly ran.
  • The State has asked that the victims testify via CCTV and that some be assisted by an intermediary.
  • The defence has objected to using an intermediary as the victims are now teenagers.

Gerhard Ackerman, the man accused of running a child sex ring, has objected to his alleged victims using an intermediary while testifying because they are now teenagers.

Ackerman, 52, appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday, where Colonel Kirsten Clark is currently testifying.

Clark, a clinical psychologist with the South African Police Service, testified on Tuesday that she was tasked with doing clinical assessments on the children. The assessments were aimed at determining whether the victims could testify in court and their ability to take the oath and consent to sex.

Clark found that all the victims were vulnerable and should be allowed to testify through CCTV, meaning they would not be in the same courtroom as Ackerman.

She also recommended that some of the more vulnerable victims should be allowed to testify with the help of an intermediary.

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

While an intermediary would typically help child witnesses by interpreting questions in a manner that would make sense to them, Clark testified that their role, in this case, would be purely supportive.

This came after Ackerman's lawyer, Herman Alberts, said it made no sense for an intermediary to help the victims as they were now in their mid-to-late teens and that legislation provided an intermediary for children under the mental or chronological age of 18.

Two of the victims are now 19 years old.

Clark agreed that questions could be posed to the victims directly without an intermediary but maintained that the intermediary would play a limited supportive role in pacifying and comforting the victims during their testimony.

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Ackerman pleaded not guilty to 740 charges, including possession of child pornography, rape of a minor, sexual assault, sexual grooming of a minor, and human trafficking.

He was originally arrested alongside senior advocate and Acting Judge Paul Kennedy, who was charged with similar offences. Kennedy died by suicide before the trial started.

The indictment paints a picture of Ackerman running a child sex ring where children were allegedly trafficked, groomed and trained to perform sexual acts with clients in exchange for money.

The trial continues.

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