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'Virgin' admits to collection of child porn


By Hanti Otto

Court Reporter

A former Tuks Wrestling Club coach, aged 55, cynically described himself to a psychologist as "probably the oldest living virgin in Pretoria".

Dries van Heerden, of Waterkloof, earlier pleaded guilty in the Pretoria Regional Court to being in possession of 500 images or publications of child pornography.

However, in his report to the court, the psychologist stated that the accused was not a paedophile.

Magistrate Peet Johnson yesterday sentenced Van Heerden to five years' imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years.

His name was added to the register of sex offenders.

The son of a reverend, Van Heerden was a loner interested in photography and reading. He started collecting sports and portrait photographs, and eventually pictures of children.

According to the psychologist's report, the accused only started masturbating in his 20s, using the pictures as motivation.

He coached youngsters in wrestling and was the wrestling club's official photographer.

"This involvement offered him a lot of opportunities, but he never did anything to any of the children," the report said.

Van Heerden has connections to highly placed ANC officials and used to be a special adviser to a Limpopo premier from 2002 to 2004.

Child porn was discovered on his computer after a data recovery company repaired its hard-drive.

Warrant officer Tonya Lourens testified that the child porn material found in Van Heerden's flat included various acts of degradation being performed on young boys, including rape.

State prosecutor Heinrich Scholz argued that those who viewed child porn contributed to the abuse and rape of children, even if they didn't commit the acts personally.

"If there is no market, the children won't be misused," he said.

Saying the court was the guardian of children, Scholz added: "Especially now with the soccer, the world's eyes are on South Africa and the sex business".

Defence advocate Jack Gerber said Van Heerden showed remorse and sought help on his own accord. He argued that the accused did not produce or distribute the porn.


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