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Child sex ring case: Ackerman used Facebook to allegedly lure victim with promise of job


WARNING: This article contains description of a sexual nature that may upset some readers.

  • The State called its second witness, a father of one of the alleged child victims, to give testimony in the child sex ring case against Gerhard Ackerman.
  • The father said his 16-year-old son was lured via Facebook with a promise of work in Johannesburg.
  • The work was as a masseur at Ackerman’s massage parlour, however, he told his father he had to engage in sexual acts with clients. 

One of Gerhard Ackerman’s alleged victims in the child sex ring was lured with the promise of money and work as a masseur.

Ackerman, who has been accused of running a child sex ring which allegedly involved senior advocate and acting judge Paul Kennedy, appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg where his trial continued.

The State called its second witness, the father of one of the victims, known as TW.

The father, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his son, testified he and his family lived in the Free State.

According to him, his son first made contact with Ackerman on Facebook via an advertisement purporting to give opportunities to young people to make a living for themselves.

READ | Child sex ring: Were Ackerman’s bail conditions relaxed without prosecutor, investigating officer knowing?

This opportunity was in the form of being trained as a masseur to work in Ackerman’s massage parlour in Johannesburg.

TW, who was not in school at the time, wanted to work for Ackerman.

The father said:

At first, I didn’t want him to go, but he begged and pleaded.

The father eventually caved into his son’s request to go to Ackerman and was told a bus ticket to Johannesburg had allegedly been purchased by the accused.

The father then changed his mind and told his son he would not be going anywhere, because they did not know Ackerman and could not trust him, or trust whether his business was legitimate.

A convincing phone call

A week later, TW told his dad he was still in contact with Ackerman and wanted to go and work, to make a life for himself.

Ackerman then called the father and said he was “keeping youngsters alive” by teaching them to massage and that the parlour was legitimate.

The father said he had asked whether there was any “funny business” such as sexual “stuff” performed at the parlour, to which Ackerman said there was not.

The father also spoke to one of the teenagers who was already at the massage parlour, who allegedly confirmed they were not performing any work of a sexual nature.

READ | Alleged child sex ring mastermind wanted a gun to take his own life, court told

Ackerman also told the father he only took 10% of what the masseurs made.

Following this conversation, he asked the father to refund the cost of the first bus ticket which TW did not use.

Believing the business to be legitimate, TW’s father allowed him to go to Ackerman. Another bus ticket was purchased.

While in Johannesburg, TW spoke to his father once, saying he was enjoying the work and making a lot of money.

Not just a massage parlour

Less than a week after TW was with Ackerman in Johannesburg, the father received a telephone call from a detective, who said he was bringing TW back to the Free State and they should meet at a garage.

The father recalled how his son kept crying and apologising during the car ride home from the garage.

“He kept saying sorry daddy, I f….d up. He was very upset,” the father said.

Eventually, TW opened up and told his father what happened when he was with Ackerman.

He told his dad he would not only massage clients, but also had to touch them on their genitals, play with them and allow them to touch and play with his genitals, which included fellatio.

The father said:

He was traumatised and said he was sorry that he did not listen to me the first time [when I didn’t want him to go.]

Most of the father’s testimony was not contested by Ackerman, who only sought to refute the testimony about what happened at the massage parlour.

Under cross-examination, Ackerman’s legal aid attorney, Herman Alberts, said it was his instruction the massage parlour was legitimate, and Ackerman did not allow the masseurs to engage in sexual acts with clients.

Alberts also put it to the witness the bus tickets were not purchased by Ackerman, but rather by Kennedy, who died by suicide before the trial started.

While not canvassed in his evidence-in-chief, Alberts also questioned the father about a video sent to Kennedy by TW.

READ | Alleged child sex ring mastermind Gerhard Ackerman planned to flee to Botswana, court hears

The father said he found out about the video and images his son sent to Kennedy after he returned from Johannesburg.

Ackerman alleged it was a strip video made with the help of the father.

“I had no involvement, I have no idea about that,” the father retorted.

Alberts also put it to the witness that in Ackerman’s version, he did not only teach TW about massaging, but also about Bitcoin.

Ackerman has pleaded not guilty to 740 charges that include: 

  • Unlawful possession of child pornography.
  • Rape.
  • Sexual grooming of a minor. 
  • Compelled rape.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Human trafficking.
  • Attempted murder.

Bail revoked

Earlier on Monday, the court revoked Ackerman’s bail after he failed to appear in court last Thursday and then allegedly attempted to evade trial.

He had vacated the premises he was living in and sold his movable assets.

Ackerman was arrested on Sunday after a warrant of arrest was authorised by the High Court on Saturday morning.

Evidence led by the State suggested he was trying to evade trial by going to Cape Town and also wanted a firearm to “tie up loose ends” before taking his own life.

Ackerman said he was moving to Pretoria and was then mugged of his cellphone and wallet after visiting a doctor to get a medical certificate for his missing court date.

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