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'Thanks for effing my life up,' victim tells alleged child sex ring operator Gerhard Ackerman

Judge reprimands Gerhard Ackerman, facing 740 charges of rape and other offences, for disrupting his child paedophilia hearing

Andre Gerhard Ackerman in the Johannesburg high court.
Andre Gerhard Ackerman in the Johannesburg high court.
Image: Phathu Luvhengo/TimesLIVE

The judge presiding over the child sex abuse trial against Gerhard Ackerman scolded him on several occasions on Wednesday for being evasive and nonchalant about his alleged paedophilia behaviour.

Ackerman, who faces 740 rape, sex trafficking, production and distribution of child porn and attempted murder charges, is on trial in the Johannesburg high court.

While human rights advocate and acting judge Paul Kennedy was a co-accused, he  allegedly committed suicide while on bail. 

Judge Ismail Mohamed was hot under the collar for most of the day as the accused would speak over state advocate Valencia Dube, answering questions with questions, and denying remembering evidence that was previously presented to the court. He constantly needed his memory refreshed.

“Mr Ackerman, is jy doof? [Are you deaf?] How many times must I ask you? I’m trying to exercise patience with you. Listen, are you listening? Every witness who has testified in this court, are [you saying] they [are] lying?

“Who do you think you are speaking to? People in kindergarten? I suggest that when you are finished here you go and enrol for an LLB and then ask questions,” an agitated Mohamed said to Ackerman.

Ackerman ran a massage parlour where clients would allegedly pay for massages with sexual experiences with underaged masseuses. Kennedy was one of his clients. 

On Wednesday, Dube pushed to establish that Ackerman had groomed his victims, benefited financially from facilitating their handover to the clients and that he knew what he was doing was illegal and wrong.

She also demonstrated that there were similarities between the accounts of the victims, which indicated that he had a modus operandi.

The overarching thread in the evidence of the children was that he recruited the boys under the false pretence that they would be doing basic massage work and nothing sexual or against their will with the adult clients.

The victims who interacted with him, including one identified as TW who said he was raped by Ackerman, said he smelled like “something wet, mouldy”, and that some parents of the children had called him out or were not aware of the full scale of the work.

TW, in his evidence, accused Ackerman of raping him at his house after he had been trying to convince the boy to visit for months.

Ackerman, however, said the boy was attracted to him and was eager to have a sexual relationship and that the evidence came as a shock.

The judge refuted this by referring to a moment of in camera testimony where TW asked to address Ackerman and his parting words to him were: “Thank you for effing my life up. Dad, I want to apologise to you.”

The boy was apologising to his father for coming to Johannesburg against his father's wishes. 

Mohamed said the boy then became emotional. His father did not immediately hear the apology as he had gone outside to cry after being overwhelmed with emotions.

Ackerman emphasised he in no way exploited the teenagers.

Infuriated, Mohamed likened the accused to a fictional character, Fagin, in Charles Dickens’s novel, Oliver Twist.

“You are a modern-day Fagin. 

“He took these little boys in London and taught them how to steal from people and bring whatever they stole to him. You are the 21st-century Fagin because this is what it reminds me of.”

Ackerman responded: “I don’t agree with you. I don’t exploit. I help them to make some money.”

Arguments will be heard on March 7.


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