Gerhard Ackerman: Second trial against child sex abuse ring kingpin delayed again

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Gerhard Ackerman.
Gerhard Ackerman.
Alex Mitchley/News24
  • Earlier this year Gerhard Ackerman was convicted of more than 700 charges of possession of child pornography, rape, human trafficking and sexual grooming linked to a child sex abuse ring he ran.
  • He is still on trial for the sexual assault of an 11-year-old boy that dates back to 2018. 
  • With numerous postponements and the trial heard in dribs and drabs, the boy's mother has called the case a travesty of justice. 

Child sex abuse ring kingpin Gerhard Ackerman, who was recently convicted for running a child sex abuse ring, appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate's Court on Wednesday for a separate trial.

He is accused of molesting an 11-year-old boy in a public bathroom in an upmarket country club in Johannesburg in August 2018.

While Ackerman was arrested just days after the alleged incident, the case has been stretched out for the last four years and there's no end in sight.

In a case where justice has not yet been carried out after more than four years, it begs the question, even if justice is dispensed later, will it be justice at all? The maxim suggests it isn't.

In his latest appearance, the court managed to hear evidence from a witness for a mere 30 minutes before the matter had to be postponed yet again because of load shedding.

READ | Child sex abuse ring: Gerhard Ackerman found guilty of child porn charges, sex trafficking, grooming

Earlier in May, the matter was also postponed without any evidence being led due to rolling blackouts impacting the court building.

According to the boy's mother, who cannot be named to protect her son's identity, the case has been postponed at least two dozen times over the years, which has culminated in the trial being heard in fits and starts.

She told News24 that the case was "a complete travesty of justice, a disgrace to the justice system and to the legal profession".

The mother said: "I find it abhorrent that in this day and age of load shedding, which has been around for over 14 years, why does a court not have alternative power sources?

"Surely, especially in sexual assault cases involving minors, at the very least, the State should be providing electricity or an alternative to have these cases dealt with as expeditiously as possible. That is a human right in terms of the Constitution."

She explained that the case had been hanging over her son's head for most of his teenage life.

READ | 'He had nightmares': A mother's anguish as son relives trauma of abuse at hands of child sex ring-accused

"He has suffered secondary victimisation and trauma as a result of the State’s actions and failure to act on this matter."

The trial is expected to continue on 10 July.

Child sex abuse ring

The mother had previously lambasted the judicial system as Ackerman had been out on bail in the matter involving her son when he committed the crimes related to the child sex abuse ring.

Ackerman was initially arrested alongside well-known advocate and acting judge Paul Kennedy.

While Kennedy died by suicide before the trial started, Ackerman was found guilty of more than 720 charges in April, including possession of child pornography, human trafficking, rape, sexual grooming of children, attempted murder, sexual assault and sexual exploitation of children.

These charges were all linked to the child sex abuse ring that he masterminded in Johannesburg, which ran under the guise of being a massage parlour and the possession of child pornography.

Had Ackerman not been granted bail, he would not have been able to run the child sex abuse ring, the mother said.

"The sheer ineptness, lack of action, failure to apply its mind and complete disregard for the children involved by the State has resulted in numerous other children being abused by Ackerman," she said.

"As a parent of a sexually-abused child, I can completely empathise with the trauma, anger, stress, frustration, guilt and a whole pile of other emotions that not only are the children going through, but the parents and siblings as well."

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