Cape Town - As the trial in the alleged child sex ring kingpin continues in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, evidence as to how the accused were arrested has been revealed.
Gerhard Ackerman and Paul Kennedy were arrested for their involvement in a child sex ring.
Ackerman faces 740 charges ranging from rape, attempted murder, distribution of child porn and human trafficking of minor children for sexual exploitation.
He has pleaded not guilty.
In explosive testimony, one of the investigating officers in the matter, Warrant Officer Hendricke Du Plessis, took to the stand and detailed how he first heard the names of Ackerman and Kennedy prior to their arrests.
According to his testimony, as reported by News24, Du Plessis was contacted by a 16-year-old boy who wanted to file charges against Ackerman.
He told the court the boy told him about a massage parlour based in Sandringham in Johannesburg where the teen had been residing with Ackerman and claimed he had been rented out by Ackerman to perform massages on adult males.
The teen further told the investigating officer Ackerman confiscated his cellphone and used it, along with photographs of the boy, to create social media accounts and dating website profiles to speak to minor boys.
Du Plessis further testified the teen told him another boy was expected to arrive at the massage parlour on the day he was to leave.
He gave the officer the younger boy’s cell phone number.
Du Plessis testified he contacted the boy but received no response. He left a message.
About a day later, the boy sent Du Plessis a pin location to where he was.
The boy, 15 years old at the time, was staying with Ackerman and was alone at home as Ackerman was away on a golf tour.
The boy told Du Plessis the same story as the previous victim.
But, he further revealed he had been sexually assaulted by Ackerman and was paid to make explicit videos and take explicit photographs for Ackerman. The boy also told Du Plessis he still had the videos and images on his cell phone.
He was also the first one to mention Kennedy.
Du Plessis was told that Kennedy had paid for the boy for videos and also paid for his bus ticket to Gauteng to work for Ackerman as a masseur.
The boy is originally from the Free State.
Du Plessis told the court he phoned his senior officer, Captain Veronica Banks, and they decided to remove the young boy from the environment and contacted his parents and drove him back to the Free State.
According to News24, later in the investigation, both boys would give police more information about the alleged crimes committed against them, this included rape.
With the information gathered, Du Plessis said he approached the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court to obtain search and seizure warrants.
This was authorised.
Du Plessis went back to Ackerman’s home. However, he had not returned from his golf tour.
After running the license plates of a green BMW parked in the driveway, Du Plessis was led to Ackerman’s brother, where he had managed to get Ackerman’s cellphone number.
He told the court he contacted Ackerman under the guise of needing to see him about the vehicle. He had not disclosed that Ackerman was the subject of an investigation, and a meeting was scheduled.
Once the pair met, Du Plessis revealed the true nature of the meeting and seized two cellphones, a USB drive and a laptop.
Ackerman was taken to the police station where he was held, and Du Plessis told the court he handed over the devices to a forensic expert to extract all data.
Thereafter Kennedy was arrested, and an iPhone and laptop were seized. Those devices were also handed over to the forensic expert to extract data.
Du Plessis said after he received the copy of the data from the devices, he studied the contents, which included videos, images and WhatsApp conversations.
The court heard he had also found a lot of videos and images of child pornography as well as conversations between Ackerman and Kennedy on WhatsApp.
Conversations between Ackerman and other minors were also found. This is how police managed to track down more victims.
Du Plessis said he also found conversations between Ackerman and other men who he established as clients.
He found 168 clients.
While messages about massages were found, the investigation revealed minors were used to perform sexual acts allegedly by Ackerman and his clients.
Du Plessis, also following the money trail and bank records for Kennedy, revealed he had been paying Ackerman and the 15-year-old boy.
After their arrests, Ackerman and Kennedy appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, where they were granted bail.
Before the start of the trial, Kennedy, who was a human rights lawyer and acting High Court judge, committed suicide in his home in Johannesburg in February 2022.
Ackerman, just before the start of the trial, failed to pitch at court, and a warrant for his arrest was immediately issued.
In January, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Ackerman was rearrested in Florida, west of Joburg, after he was spotted by members of the public.