Child rapist and porn ringleader Gerhard Ackerman’s 12 life terms accompanied by Judge Mohamed Ismail’s fitting description of him sends an encouraging message that the country’s courts have had enough of violence against women and children.
They go a long way in restoring faith and trust in our justice system, which at times has been criticised for favouring the perpetrators rather than the victims of violence.
Ackerman, arguably one of the most notorious sex offenders in South Africa’s history, was convicted on 700 counts of rape, child pornography and human trafficking – much to the relief of his young victims and the child rights activists following this case.
The pain of his crimes will take his victims and families years to heal from, something that obviously has not fully struck him judging by his continued defiance and attempts to present himself as innocent.
His lack of remorse is telling of the kind of a person he is.
His modus operandi in committing crimes was something straight out of a horror movie.
Judge Ismail described him as a “plainly evil man” who lured children from disadvantaged communities and opened them up to abuse from other men, including senior advocate Paul Kennedy, who died by suicide before the start of the trial last year.
He disguised his evil deeds by pretending to be running a so-called massage parlour, and going as far as booking his victims bus rides and hotel stays on behalf of his clients.
As fitting as this week’s sentencing is, it will not undo the pain these men have caused innocent children.
Their futures have been severely disrupted early in their lives by people old enough to be their caregivers.
Ackerman, like fellow convicted child rapist Ntokozo Zikhali, have no place in our society.
Zikhali was recently sentenced to life in prison for the rape and kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl, however he was acquitted of the murder of 4-year-old Bokgabo Poo.
It is understood that a new investigating team has been appointed for Bokgabo’s case.
Victims of violence, especially children, must always take priority and the courts must send that message.