File picture: Independent Media

Cape Town - Australian paedophile, Anthony Peter Freedendal, was found liable to be extradited to his home country to face a string of child sex charges, the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court found on Wednesday.

The court ordered that Freedendal be committed to Pollsmoor Prison until Minister of Justice Michael Masutha makes a final decision on the extradition.

Freedendal has 15 court days to appeal the decision in the Western Cape High Court. Defence attorney William Booth told African News Agency he has not yet taken instructions from his client regarding an appeal.

However, he said he intends to make submissions to the minister to request that Freedendal's age and ill health be taken into account. Freedendal is 76 years old and has cancer and tuberculosis, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Booth said he also intended to request that the minister consider that Freedendal was serving a sentence in Cape Town for similar offences committed locally.

In her judgment on Wednesday, Magistrate Xoliswa Ndoyana found that the extradition application satisfied the principle of double criminality. This principle requires that a crime for which an extradition is sought, should be a crime in both the requested and requesting states. In other words, the offences Freedendal is accused of in Australia, should also be offences in South Africa.

Magistrate Ndoyana added that she was also satisfied that affidavits Australian authorities supplied to South Africa set out that there was sufficient evidence to warrant Freedendal’s prosecution abroad.

She referred to several arguments Booth had raised in this regard, but said that it was merely her duty to find that Freedendal was liable to be extradited and that a final extradition decision rested with the minister.

The arguments could be presented to the minister or raised at a later trial, she said.

Magistrate Ndoyana also referred to Booth’s argument that the charges his client stands accused of in Australia may have prescribed. However, she said he did not lay any basis for such an argument and that she could therefore not take that issue any further.

Freedendal was arrested in connection with the child sex charges in Port Lincoln, Australia in July 2011 and was released on bail. According to papers before the court, the Australian charges were allegedly committed from June 1999 to January 2003 and the alleged victims were girls and boys, aged 7 to 11. Among them was a nine-year-old intellectually disabled girl.

Freedendal 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 and was sentenced to five years, but only 10 months had to be served directly in prison and the rest under correctional supervision.

By the time he was due for release on parole, Australian authorities requested his extradition.

Freedendal’s wife, Jo, was present in the public gallery for the judgment. She greeted him as warders led him down to the court's holding cells.