The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - Child rapists, paedophiles and those found in possession of child pornography deserve life sentences - not the lenient jail terms handed down to offenders. And some have questioned the commitment of the authorities to ensure that the cases are speedily dealt with.
This week crimes against children made headlines across the country.
* On Monday Cezanne Visser, dubbed Advocate Barbie, walked out of prison after serving exactly half her sentence following her conviction on an array of sex charges. She was granted parole.
* Police announced that they had bust an international child porn ring in which children as young as five were believed to have been groomed to have sex with each other and adults. National police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said police were investigating another 44 people with possible links to the syndicate, and have obtained at least 30 search warrants so far. Six men from various areas including a teacher, a retired school principal, a headmaster, a lawyer, a dermatologist, and a businessman were arrested.
* On Friday the Ceres community bayed for blood after a man appeared in the magistrate’s court for allegedly raping a four-month baby girl and a 7-year-old boy. It’s alleged the man entered a Wendy house where the children were asleep and then took them to a nearby vineyard where he raped them. The baby has undergone several reconstructive surgeries in hospital and the boy is receiving counselling.
* And it emerged that no trial date has been set for a three year-old case from Pretoria in which nine members of one family were arrested for allegedly creating child pornography and sexual assaulting six of their own children.
The nine family members include a grandfather, 58, grandmother, 57, their two sons from previous relationships, aged 34 and 36, the grandfather’s brother, 61, his wife, 42, and their son, who is reportedly mentally disabled, which is another form of exploitation. The 26-year-old wife of one of the sons was also arrested. The ninth person was a 31-year-old woman believed to be the wife of accused number eight.
During their bail application in 2010 the court heard how two of the family’s biological children and two foster children, aged between six and eight, were taught different sexual positions. They were also instructed how to have sex with each other. The children were sexually groomed and also had to witness the adults having sex.
NGOs have slammed the Parole Board’s Visser decision as unacceptable.
In 2009 Visser was found guilty of 11 charges, which included two of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl, and soliciting a 13-year-old girl to commit indecent acts with her then-lover Dirk Prinsloo.
Kevin Barbeau, executive director of Women and Men against Child Abuse, said a seven-year jail sentence was lenient to begin with.
“She should’ve got a life sentence. She was a partner in sadistic crimes against very vulnerable children which she herself recruited from places of safety.”
In March 2010 one of Visser’s victims committed suicide.
Shaheda Omar, director at the Teddy Bear Clinic agrees with Barbeau.
“What kind of message are we sending to other victims?” she asked.
Lucy Redivo, director at Child Abuse Action Group, Sunnyside
said the light sentences for child sex offenders proved that the country’s leaders were not serious about the plight of children and women.
Other child sex abuse cases:
* German Catholic Priest Georg Kerkhoff was arrested in February 2008 after several children returned home traumatised from a weekend Communion trip outside the city. Reports suggest that his trial has still not been complete and that he currently lives in Cape Town.
* James McNeill is known as the notorious “Santa Claus paedophile” who visited the Red Cross Children’s Hospital at Christmas where he would have little children sit on his lap. In June 2003 he was sentenced to 10 years in jail on four charges of indecent assault of a toddler and three pre-pubescent girls. In 2007 he was released from prison.
* William John Creasy, a former school teacher, was sentenced in 2004 to six years in prison for indecently assaulting three boys and possession of the largest quantity of child porn yet seized in the Western Cape. In 2009 he was released on parole.
* In 2009 police bust a human trafficking and child sex ring linking top Durban businessmen where underage girls were being lured into a sex syndicate.