- The trial of Gerhard Ackerman, who is facing more than 730 charges, started on Monday.
- He faces charges that include possession of child pornography, rape, human trafficking, and sexual assault.
- Ackerman was the co-accused of senior advocate and acting judge Paul Kennedy before his death.
The charge sheet against Gerhard Ackerman, who is accused of running a child sex ring, was so exhaustive he was unable to plead to all the counts in a single day.
Ackerman appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday, where he started pleading to the more than 730 charges against him.
The charges relate largely to a child sex ring he allegedly ran which also involved acting judge and senior advocate Paul Kennedy.
Kennedy died by suicide some months after he was arrested and charged alongside Ackerman.
Standing in the dock for the official start of his trial, Ackerman wore a black jacket, green trousers, a face mask, and a Kufi cap which is often associated with Islam.
Ackerman pleaded not guilty to hundreds of charges including:
- 639 counts of the possession of child pornography.
- Creating child pornography.
- Human trafficking.
- Several counts of rape.
- Several counts sexual assault.
- Compelled rape.
- Compelled sexual assault.
- Sexual exploitation of children.
- Benefitting from the sexual exploitation of children.
- Sexual grooming of children.
After Ackerman pleaded not guilty to the 700th charge, Judge Ismail Mahomed postponed the trial to Tuesday.
Ackerman still has more than 40 counts he needed to plead to before the trial moves to hear evidence from the State's first witness.
He is accused of trafficking minor teenagers and sexually grooming them before selling their services to other adult clients for money.
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The State alleged he benefitted financially from these services.
Ackerman is also accused of raping and sexual assaulting some of the victims himself.
According to the indictment, Kennedy was not only a client of Ackerman's, but helped him allegedly procure the teenagers for sexual exploitation.
In one instance, Kennedy allegedly paid for a bus ticket for one of the male teenagers to come to Johannesburg.
It is alleged the crimes were committed between September 2020 and July 2021, shortly before their arrests.
News24 also reported the accused had been out on bail for the alleged sexual assault of an 11-year-old boy when he allegedly committed myriad sexual offences against other minors with Kennedy.