Three men from the Western Cape are the latest suspects to be arrested for child pornography, bringing the total to seven since November 2023.
Garth van West, 53, Corné Van Rooyen, 40, and Shannon Manuel, 32, were arrested in a space of three days following a joint operation by the SAPS and the US Department of Homeland Security.
One of the men posed as a teenager to allegedly lure underage girls to a chat group where child pornography was distributed and shared among the three.
National Police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said the three suspects were arrested in Worcester, Kraaifontein and Mitchells Plain respectively.
“A 53-year-old man from Worcester was the first to be arrested on Wednesday, January 17. He has so far been found with 95000 images and 6000 videos of child pornography. He faces a charge of accessing, distributing and possessing child pornography.
She said: “The second suspect, a 40-year-old man was arrested in Kraaifontein on Thursday, January 18. In his possession, he was found with more than 149 000 pictures of child pornography as well as more than 5 000 videos.”
He was also found in possession of two unlicensed firearms and various calibres of ammunition, as well as nine snakes three of which did not have a permit.
Mathe said a 32-year-old man from Mitchells Plan was arrested a day later after he was found to be chatting and luring underage girls on chat groups where nude pictures were exchanged.
This brings the total number of child online sexual predators who have been arrested in the country to seven after three were arrested in Gauteng and one in KwaZulu-Natal last year.
Provincial NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed that the trio appeared in various courts in Worcester, Kraaifontein and Mitchells Plain where their cases were postponed for further investigation.
“Garth van West appeared at the Worcester Magistrate’s Court charged with child pornography possession, distribution, downloading, etc. He made his first appearance on January 18 and his next court date is January 25, for a formal bail application,” Ntabazalila said.
Corné Van Rooyen who appeared at the Blue Downs Magistrates Court on January 22 was charged with the possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, possession, distribution and access of child pornography, as well as charges relating to the Animals Protection Act.
Van Rooyen’s case returns to the court for a formal bail application on January 30.
Meanwhile, Shannon Manuel appeared at the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on the same day and was charged with possession of child pornography, distribution, downloading and possible grooming charges.
“He made his first appearance on January 22 and will apply for bail on January 29. In all three matters the State will oppose bail,” Ntabazalila added.