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Sex ring kingpin Ackerman cannot be rehabilitated: police psychologist

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Gerhard Ackerman in the Johannesburg high court. File photo.
Gerhard Ackerman in the Johannesburg high court. File photo.
Image: Kayleen Morgan

Gerhard Ackerman, the sex ring kingpin convicted of more than 700 counts including rape, child trafficking and possession of child pornography, has a paedophilic disorder and chances of rehabilitation are 0.5%. 

This is the diagnosis made by Col Kirsten Clark, the clinical psychologist employed by the police in the investigative psychology section.  

Clark was testifying during the sentencing proceedings of Ackerman in the Johannesburg high court on Tuesday. She was called by the state in aggravation of sentence. 

Clark said she did not assess Ackerman but made a diagnosis based on the indictment and the evidence before the court.

She said Ackerman had a sexual attraction towards children. She said this led to fantasies and getting his hands on child pornographic material. 

“Having child pornography is strongly indicative of someone with paedophilic disorder,” Clark said.

Clark said research has indicated that chances of rehabilitation are 0.5%. 

“It’s a lifelong disorder. It is part of that person's psychology. Their attraction to children is part of their inherent psychology,” she said. 

Prosecutor Valencia Dube asked the court to impose a life sentence on each of the counts of rape and human trafficking convictions that judge Ismail Mahomed passed in April.

The court found Ackerman guilty of more than 740 counts of rape, human trafficking and the unlawful possession, creation and distribution of child pornography. 

Ackerman was also found guilty of attempted murder for “selling” the sexual services of a youth to disgraced advocate Paul Kennedy, who he knew was HIV-positive.  

Herman Alberts, Ackerman's lawyer, proposed that all sentences should run concurrently with a life sentence. Alberts said if the court were to impose a 10-year sentence for each of the 253 counts of possession of child pornography images, the sentence would be 2,530 years, which would be for show. 

“All sentences should run concurrently with the life sentence and will allow for parole [consideration] after 25 years,” Alberts said. 

Alberts said Ackerman is a 53-year-old man who is a first-time offender and grew up in a stable family where his parents remained married until his father died in 2019. 

Mahomed asked whether Ackerman’s case was not one where his personal circumstances paled into insignificance when one considered the seriousness of the offences. Alberts said he had to accept the judge’s view. 

“I can only deviate [from imposing the prescribed minimum sentence of life for some offences] if I find substantial and compelling circumstances. These are ordinary circumstances,” Mahomed said.

Alberts replied that he could do no more than present what was available. 

Mahomed said there was silence on the aspect of remorse from Ackerman. 

“From the evidence that was presented, the accused seems to labour under the belief these children were not victims and were exercising free will and he was doing them a favour by getting them off the streets and giving them jobs,” Mahomed said. 

The judge said the court heard how he manipulated children from broken homes. 

“To add insult to injury, he had the temerity to blame the parents,” Mahomed said. 

Ackerman's sentence will be passed on August 14. 


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