Johannesburg - The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has heard how alleged sex ring kingpin Gerhard Ackerman was planning to escape to Botswana or Cape Town to evade his arrest.
The court also heard how Ackerman, instead of coming to court, had travelled to Pretoria, where he had planned to stay after severing ties with his current landlord.
On Friday, the 52-year-old accused said he had gone to see a doctor after falling ill on Wednesday evening. However, Ackerman failed to produce a medical certificate, claiming that he was mugged on his way to the doctor.
Ackerman went on the run after pleading not guilty to all the charges and was on bail of R6 000 at the time of his re-arrest on Sunday.
According to sworn statements from law enforcement officers, neighbours and friends detailed in their affidavits how Ackerman also was planning to buy a firearm as he felt he would not have a fair trial.
On Thursday, Ackerman failed to appear before court and is reported to have sent his lawyer, advocate Herman Alberts, a voice note that he was suffering from food poisoning and thus would not make his court appearance.
"He asked my brother to assist him to move his belongings on Thursday. When I saw the media report, I knew it was Dante (Ackerman). He was very anxious about moving and was not sick. He asked us to arrange for him a lift to Botswana; he was afraid to drive as he feared being stopped by the police. He thought I had a gun for him. Dante (Ackerman) heard that we wanted to call the police; he wanted to hit me, and I ducked. We had an altercation," read a statement from Anthony Van Zyl, who said he knew Ackerman for a few months after having helped him with his laptop.
However, Ackerman denied having tried to organise a firearm to commit suicide or trying to escape Gauteng province as per his bail conditions.
In her testimony, Captain Veronica Banks said she interviewed Ackerman, who told her that the accused admitted to having solicited a firearm because he felt he would not get a fair trial.
"After and further a brief interview, the suspect said he felt that he would not get a fair trial and further refused to answer questions," she said.
"On Thursday, I was very sick with food poisoning. Anyone who saw me could see I was sick. Even if I escaped to Botswana, I never said I wanted to go to Botswana. I have also never said I want to go to Cape Town or Botswana, as stated by my two friends. I had previously told them that if I had a choice I would like to live in Cape Town and not that I want to escape... After I was mugged the medical certificate, I put it in my other wallet which I had known the wallet. I do not know where this wallet is after yesterday’s incident when I was arrested," he said.
Ackerman failed to appear in court on Thursday, January 26, and his non-compliance with the order of the court to furnish the state with a medical certificate by Friday, January 27, 2023, and his disappearance from his place of residence without any notification to the investigating officer prompted the NPA to approach the above-mentioned court with an urgent application to revoke his bail. He was re-arrested on Sunday morning following the warrant for his arrest.
Ackerman faces 740 charges ranging from rape, attempted murder, distribution of child porn, and human trafficking of minor children for sexual exploitation.
The trial against him is set to continue in the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg, as previously scheduled before his disappearance.