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Cape Town - An elderly man facing multiple counts of sexual offences involving young girls was refused bail by the Goodwood District Court, Cape Town, on Friday.
The man, 77, would remain in custody until October 11 for further investigation. Magistrate Sean Lea said the State had a strong case, with more charges likely to be added to the current 22.
He said the alleged victims, mostly from informal settlements near the man's Richwood home, were all from destitute backgrounds, lacking proper parental and material support.
“They were extremely vulnerable to any form of material benefit,” said Lea.
He said the investigation began when one of the man's neighbours reported seeing young girls entering the man's home at all hours for years.
The man had made a bad impression during his testimony by trying to portray himself as a saviour to children, the magistrate said. The accused had made the “bold assertion” during proceedings that he would prove his innocence at his trial.
In the court room were several long transparent plastic bags filled with pornographic DVDs, magazines, and a video of bestiality. The man said the purpose of the video was to educate children, when asked about it by prosecutor Mario September,
“The ridiculousness of this statement speaks for itself,” Lea responded.
He said the pornography confiscated in the accused's home included vibrators, which showed the State's prima facie case against the accused to be strong. The magistrate said the man had failed to satisfy the court that there were compelling and substantial circumstances to justify his release on bail.
He had failed to prove that his release was in the interests of justice.
Lea referred to the testimony of the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Johan Kotze, who stated the man had recently tested HIV-positive, and that he had infected one of his alleged victims.
Despite the accused's affliction, he had engaged in casual sex in the form of one-night stands, Kotze had told the court.
Being infected with HIV was not a compelling factor justifying the man's release on bail, as suggested by legal aid attorney Vernon Ebbersohn.
Lea agreed with the prosecutor that the man's release would not only undermine the criminal justice system, but also public safety and the safety of his alleged victims.
“If one considers how easy it would be for the accused to influence or intimidate the alleged victims, then there is not only a risk that he will do so if released on bail, but a reasonable probability,” he said.