Child porn find just ‘tip of the iceberg’

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The house where photographer Rudolph Coetzee allegedly used his studio to take pornographic photographs of local children. Photo: Danie van der Lith Danie van der Lith

Kimberley - A Kimberley photographer, arrested on charges of rape and the manufacturing of child pornography, could face several more charges on Thursday morning when he appears in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.

It emerged on Wednesday that thousands of pornographic photographs confiscated during his arrest last week, were only the tip of the iceberg and many more children might be involved.

Rudolph Coetzee, 23, the owner of RCR Photography, will appear in court on Thursday on three charges of rape, as well as the manufacturing of child pornography. He is currently in police custody and is expected to apply for bail.

Coetzee was arrested at his home-studio in Heuwelsig after members of the Kimberley Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit confiscated a memory stick containing thousands of pornographic images involving children.

Although it is alleged that hundreds of the photographs, depicting naked and semi-naked children, were taken by Coetzee himself, it has also emerged that Coetzee’s computer hard drive still needs to be investigated.

The three rape charges apparently relate to photographs where Coetzee is allegedly engaging in sexual acts with children of both sexes.

Police, with the help of parents, on Wednesday identified several more children in the photographs, but have urged anyone who might have made use of Coetzee’s services to urgently contact the investigating officer, Detective Warrant Officer Elizma Roos, on 082 466 4512.

The identification process has apparently been hampered by the fact that some photographs only show the bodies of children and not their faces. Some of the images were apparently taken as far back as two years ago.

Media reports of the arrest on Wednesday caused an outrage, with the DFA’s Facebook page abuzz with concerned residents asking where the parents of the victims were when the crimes were committed.

“Where were the parents? How did he get the kids alone,” several users asked.

Another asked: “What parents in their right mind leave their children with a photographer without supervision? Parents need to change their thinking, as they obviously do not have their children’s interests at heart by doing this.”

Another added: “Parents should teach their children to speak up. I feel sorry for the children in these situations, but I blame the parents.”

However, some said that blaming the parents was taking attention away from “the real monster”.

“Those poor kids were either groomed beforehand or made to be scared of speaking up. For him (the accused) to have gotten away with (allegedly) hurting so many kids he must have had his game plan sorted. Yes, parents should have been more in tune with their kids but that is such a small minded mentality – one that takes attention away from the real monster here,” one man said.

Another local photographer reacted by saying that he would never do photo shoots of adults or children without the parents, relatives or partners being present.

“This gives photographers a bad name. Shame on him,” he added.

One of the affected parents on Wednesday said that Coetzee had asked parents of children who came for photo shoots at the home-studio to “wait outside” because “he worked better if he was alone with them” and that they never suspected him of any wrongdoing.

Coetzee was apparently arrested after one of his victims informed her parents of what happened in the studio and they, in turn, informed the police.

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