Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court has reduced a 15-year sentence to four years for a city paedophile convicted on 95 counts, including producing child pornography and sexual assault.
Johannes Kleinhans, 75, pleaded guilty to all counts and was sentenced by the regional court in Bellville last year.
The minimum sentences for some of those charges were 10 years each, but magistrate Amanda van Leeve took Kleinhans’s age and health into account in suspending parts of his sentence.
Kleinhans argued, and the high court agreed, that the sentence was not lenient enough.
The judgment handed down last week said that the regional court failed to take certain circumstances into account, including possibilities for rehabilitation and public humiliation suffered.
“The sentence imposed envisages a man in his late eighties being incarcerated for sexual offences, none of which involved any significant element of physical violence or injury,” the judgment reads.
It also cited Kleinhans’s status as a businessman and family man.
Childline manager Joan van Niekerk said the judgment was disgusting.
“People assume that a child is safe because he’s a grandad. It’s an incorrect assumption that people stop having sexual interest in their old age.”
She also said that, even if the victims had shown no physical signs of abuse, the “impact on children psychologically and emotionally is much more concerning”.
“Our judiciary lacks an understanding of the long-term psychological damage these children face.”
Kleinhans has now been sentenced to an effective four years in prison, followed by three years in a sexual offenders’ programme and restricted internet and social media access, and his name will be recorded in the Register of Sex Offenders.
Cape Town Child Welfare chief executive Niresh Ramklass said he was also concerned about the decision.
“If our justice system has in place a minimum standard for these offences, then it makes a mockery of that system when it can be reduced by such a large amount.
“This is not a society that’s of a backwards nature.”
He did, however, acknowledge that given Kleinhans’s health and the rehabilitation mandated by the high court decision, he understood why the court acted the way it did.
“When you look at the extenuating circumstances, I can agree with the court,” Ramklass said.
“But now we must rely on the medical professionals to monitor the situation.”
He echoed Van Niekerk’s thoughts on victim support.
“I just hope that the children involved receive proper counselling because the effects can stay for a long time.”
The National Prosecuting Authority said it did not know whether it would appeal against this decision to a higher court.