HORRIFYING details of a 59-year-old Knysna businessman’s alleged sexual encounters with small children were revealed during his application for bail in the George Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
State advocate Evadne Kortje opposed the bail application despite the man’s offer to submit to strenuous bail conditions, including 24-hour house arrest and correctional supervision.
The man is a well-known estate agent and familiar in the town’s yachting circles.
Magistrate Phumela Yono will rule on the bail application on Friday.
Kortje told the court the man faced 36 charges involving at least four children over a period of 10 years. The charges included rape, indecent assault, abduction, public indecency, the creation and production of child pornography, soliciting, and human trafficking for sexual purposes, all committed in the George area.
She read to the court an affidavit by the investigating officer in the case, Detective Warrant Officer Martin Borg of the George Sexual Offences Unit, revealing shocking details of the alleged crimes.
Borg said the first complainant was a then 11-year-old boy, now 21, who had allegedly been taken to the Garden Route Dam by the accused in 2001 and raped. The child had also allegedly been offered money to sexually stimulate the accused.
"During this incident, the accused took pictures of the boy while he was naked,” Borg said. The man then allegedly paid the boy and drove him home.
He later allegedly paid the boy to procure other victims.
"The first complainant was manipulated and used by the accused to recruit other minors in order for the accused to commit sexual acts with them,” Borg said.
"During the commission of these offences, the accused would also take pornographic pictures of the children or instruct the first complainant to take photographs of the accused while he was sexually engaged with these children.”
Kortje said the boy eventually handed the man to the authorities "on a silver platter” when he took the memory card out of the man’s camera and gave it to the police.
The pictures found on the card had provided the police with sufficient evidence to arrest the man at his R1.8-million home in the affluent Welbedacht Estate in Knysna on May 5, Kortje said.
The man’s alleged second victim was a nine-year-old girl, procured for him by the first complainant. "The accused made her get undressed while he took pictures of her.”
With the boy watching, the man then allegedly sexually molested the girl and instructed her to commit a sexual act on him. She refused. He then allegedly raped her and gave both children money.
The third complainant was an eight- year-old girl, also allegedly procured by the boy.
Borg said the boy was again present during this encounter and had to calm the little girl down while she was allegedly being raped.
The next recorded incident took place more than 10 years after the first incident, when the first complainant, by then an adult, allegedly procured an eight- year-old girl for the man on March 29 this year.
The accused drove the first complainant and the girl away from George in the direction of Herold’s Bay until they stopped at a deserted spot in the bush.
The young man had been instructed to take pictures while the accused allegedly molested the girl, Borg said.
"A sequence of pornographic pictures was taken in which the various acts of penetration by the accused of the fourth complainant are depicted.”
These were the pictures handed to the police on the memory card taken from the man’s camera, Borg said.
When he realised the card was missing, the man had allegedly harassed and threatened the first complainant to get it back and tried to persuade him to procure more child victims.
Borg said to protect the first complainant, police had made a copy of the card, which was given to the accused.
All four complainants in the case have made statements and the first complainant has been placed under witness protection.
When the man’s house was searched, police seized several electronic devices as well as a set of clothing he was wearing when he allegedly assaulted the fourth victim. The man’s Land Rover, "clearly visible on the photographs”, was also seized.
It was submitted that the man posed a flight risk because he was not South African-born, although he had taken out South African citizenship after emigrating from Zimbabwe.
Defence advocate Alfonso Hattingh said his client intended pleading not guilty when the case went to trial.
He submitted that the state’s case was flawed in that the first offence was alleged to have taken place in 2001, before the man moved to South Africa.
Kortje said the defence had failed to provide the court with the "exceptional circumstances” required for the granting of bail in serious crimes.