Johannesburg - He was arrested at his premises, which employs teenage boys to give “tantric” massages to older clientele, situated on the same street as the Sandton police station.
Now, the 49-year-old suspected serial child molester targeting Morningside children has been released on R5000 bail, eliciting outrage from anti-child abuse groups who are monitoring the case.
He seemingly took inspiration from American serial killer Ted Bundy by pretending to have a broken arm to lure in his targets, with one sexual assault taking place in the public bathrooms at Morningside Country Club.
Speaking to the Saturday Star, the child’s distraught mother detailed how she, a forensic investigator and the Sandton SAPS managed to track down the man she believes traumatised her son. On August 16, the 11-year-old had gone to the bathrooms at the club during a school hockey match. The bathrooms had a separate room housing the urinals and when the child entered, a man blocked the doorway.
The man, wearing a sling on his left arm, said he needed assistance taking down his pants, and when the child helped him to remove them, he forced the child to fondle his genitals.
Even though the child pulled away, the man grabbed him and forced him to touch his penis multiple times. The child was able to get loose and escape.
“He broke down when he saw my husband (after the game),” said the mother.
The parents immediately opened a criminal case at Sandton police station.
According to the mother, the investigating officer said she was aware of a similar incident of a child involved in a sexual assault in recent months involving a man in a sling. Because of this, the two cases have been combined.
The country club managed to acquire all the CCTV footage of the premises and the man was identified going into the bathroom wearing the sling, a cap and dark glasses, seemingly knowing where the CCTV cameras were located and avoiding being caught face-on.
While no staff at the club were able to identify the man, security footage from the club’s vehicle exit showed him leaving in a grey BMW 3 series.
The parents had engaged the services of forensic investigator Howard Blumenfeld to help in the investigation and he and the SAPS managed to track down the owner of the vehicle.
However, Blumenfeld said, the car belonged to the brother of the accused. The brother explained that he had been lending his car to the accused, but was unable to say where his brother was residing.
The 49-year-old was eventually tracked to his business, the Sandton massage parlour, and on August 24 it was raided by SAPS and Blumenfeld.
The parlour’s website says it only hires people under the age of 22, stating: “To explore a whole other world of not only massage therapy but also of pleasure.
If you are looking for something a little bit different, this is the ideal destination to find an experienced, well-trained masseur to fulfil a desire that cannot be met anywhere else.”
While Blumenfeld said one of the masseurs at the premises was 17 years old, Captain Granville Meyer said it was unclear if he was involved in providing any sexual services.
The 49-year-old appeared at the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Monday but, said the mother and the anti-abuse organisation who attended, he was granted bail within minutes.
Gigi White, founder of Get Up Woman, said the prosecution didn’t oppose bail, despite the investigating officer providing a statement expressly stating the accused not be released.
The Saturday Star has reliably learnt of similar charges opened against the accused in the past, including assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in Brooklyn, an incident of exposing himself to a child in the Western Cape in 2009, and an indecent exposure charge in KwaZulu-Natal in 2008.
White said that releasing the man on bail despite his alleged criminal history was a terrible mistake by the State. “We feel our judicial system needs to be held accountable for the decisions made regarding this case to date. The sad reality of this particular case highlights the dangers we face in all sectors of society Our judiciary systems need to be more stringent on decisions like these,” she said.
Women and Men Against Child Abuse said it was “an indication of lack of attention to detail by the prosecution”. Spokesperson Ngaatendweishe Murombedzi said it questioned the competence of the prosecutor.
“It is intolerable that a representative of the justice system made such a negligent omission, resulting in the release of a child predator, putting other children in danger.”
However, the National Prosecuting Authority, through its spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane-Louw, said the prosecution had no reason to oppose bail. “Please note that the prosecutor did not oppose bail as there were no grounds. The accused was no flight risk, he had a fixed address, the victims were protected by the bail conditions set by the court, the State had no information that he was intimidating witnesses or would interfere with investigations,” she said.
“No information about pending cases was brought to the attention of the prosecutor. Should such cases be brought to the attention of the NPA, further steps can be taken, including applying to the court to revoke bail.”
The accused’s lawyer, Steve Friedland, said he was unable to discuss current court matters involving the two Sandton incidents as the proceedings were ongoing.
However, after being informed of the other cases opened against his client in the past, Friedland said the accused had never been convicted on any criminal charges.
He also denied claims that the massage parlour offered sexual services, and confirmed the establishment had since been shut down. The man will be appearing in court next month.
Attempts to contact Morningside Country Club for comment were unsuccessful.
The Saturday Star