Johannesburg – The EFF have welcomed the 12 life terms handed down to convicted rapist and child sex ring leader Gerhard Ackerman, who was sentenced on Monday to more than 700 sex crimes, including rape and sexual grooming.
Ackerman was convicted by Gauteng High Court Judge Mohamed Ismail, who described him as an “evil man” who had lured unsuspecting young boys to be sexually exploited by Ackerman and his clients, who paid money in order to engage in sexual exploitation of minors.
Ackerman was charged alongside advocate Paul Kennedy, who, after his arrest, committed suicide at his Joburg home ahead of the start of the trial in February 2022. Kennedy, a former Zondo Commission state prosecutor had been out on bail at the time.
According to the EFF, Kennedy died under mysterious circumstances and not through suicide, after his involvement in a child sex ring syndicate that preyed on young boys from challenged households was exposed.
The party said Kennedy could have led to more prominent people being identified as being part of the sex and trafficking ring.
“Kennedy, however, died under suspicious circumstances in February 2022, shortly before the scheduled trial. Their crimes are linked to a covert syndicate that included child pornography, possession of child pornography, rape and statutory rape, sexual grooming and exploitation of children, and human trafficking for the purposes of sex trade,” the EFF said on Tuesday.
The party said Kennedy should not have been granted bail.
“The EFF reiterates that bail must not be granted for Schedule 6 offences. Despite a 16-year history of predatory behaviour, Ackerman was granted bail that allowed him to freely continue his heinous crimes against children unabated. While this sentencing is welcomed, the victims and survivors of Kennedy and Ackerman and their client list would have been drastically minimised if the SAPS and the NPA had operated effectively and efficiently,” EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said.
Thambo, slammed Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who, at the time, was the chairperson of the commission into allegations of state capture, for employing Kennedy.
“Notably, the commission's chairperson persistently employed the services of this charged serial child rapist. Zondo sanctioned child rape and utilised state funds to enable Kennedy's crimes against children,” Thambo said.
On Monday during court proceedings, Ackerman, who faced more than 700 counts of rape, child pornography, and human trafficking, indicated that he wanted to file a motion for retrial after the judgment was handed down by Judge Ismail.
This is despite Ackerman being fingered as a ringleader who orchestrated, actively organised, and was paid to lure young boys to his so-called “massage parlour”.
Evidence led through the trial indicated that Ackerman went as far as booking his young victims from challenged households bus fares and hotel stays on behalf of his clients.
Ackerman insisted that he would be out by the end of November as he intended to challenge the judgement.
“I believe I am innocent of most, if not all, of the charges that they say I am guilty of. A few months is not a long time,” he said.
Ackerman has accused his legal council of failing him on the matter, adding that only his family and friends know him and the person he is.
During the trial, it was revealed that most of the explicit pornographic material was found on his laptop and cellphone and formed part of the evidence that was presented in court throughout the trial.