Cape Town - An Australian man, who was convicted and imprisoned for child sex crimes committed in Cape Town, is fighting tooth and nail to avoid being extradited to his home country, where he is wanted in connection with similar child sex allegations.
Through his lawyer, Anthony Peter Freedendal appealed to a Wynberg magistrate to consider his ill health when deciding his fate.
The 75-year-old has skin cancer on his head, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, bronchitis and a heart condition, attorney William Booth submitted during Freedendal’s extradition inquiry on Friday.
The accused’s head was bandaged as a result of surgery he underwent while in Pollsmoor Prison.
These were factors which the court should take into consideration, Booth submitted in to the Wynberg Magistrate's Court.
The State launched the inquiry after authorities in Australia formally requested Freedendal’s extradition so that he can be tried in connection with 24 charges, including indecent assault, persistent sexual exploitation of a child and unlawful sexual intercourse.
According to papers before the court, the offences were allegedly committed from June 1999 to January 2003 and the alleged victims were girls and boys, aged seven to 11. Among them was a nine-year-old intellectually disabled girl.
Kicking off the extradition inquiry on Friday, State advocate Megan Blows said there were two prerequisites which must be established before a person could be surrendered to a foreign state.
These were that:
- The person sought must be found to be liable to be surrendered.
- The evidence against the accused must be sufficient to warrant a prosecution in the foreign state.
Blows told the court that, in terms of an Extradition Treaty between South Africa and Australia, an offence was considered extraditable if it incurred an imprisonment sentence of a year or more in both countries.
In Freedendal’s case, some of the charges were so serious that they were likely to incur a sentence of life imprisonment in Australia. A similar sentence would be imposed for the South African equivalent.
Referring to the second prerequisite, Blows told the court that the State was in possession of a certificate from Australian authorities which states that that country has sufficient evidence at its disposal to warrant Freedendal’s prosecution.
She said the Constitutional Court previously held that such a certificate was enough to prove that sufficient evidence existed against an accused.
She asked the court to find that Freedendal was liable to be extradited.
However, Booth dissected the application and pointed out technical flaws.
He argued that the warrant issued for Freedendal’s arrest fell short of the requirements set out in the treaty.
He also referred to affidavits which Australian authorities deposed to in which they claimed there was sufficient evidence against Freedendal.
According to Booth there was no indication of how the authorities satisfied themselves that there was sufficient evidence.
“There’s no averment that they studied the docket or the evidence or that they interviewed the complainants,” he added.
Booth also questioned why Australian authorities only requested Freedendal’s extradition last year, when the offences were allegedly committed in 1999.
However, Blows responded that the issues Booth referred to were irrelevant.
The court is expected to give a ruling on September 21.
Freedendal was arrested in Port Lincoln, Australia, in July 2011 and was granted bail.
He was later given permission to visit South Africa, but with a condition that he return by November 21 that year. However, he never returned.
Instead, he ended up being arrested and charged with the sexual abuse of eight children in Cape Town.
He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to five years in jail in terms of Section 276(1)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act.
It meant that only 10 months of the five years had to be served directly in prison and the rest under correctional supervision.
But by the time he was due for release on parole, Australian authorities requested his extradition.