Child porn accused seek bail

Nine members of a Pretoria family who face charges related to child pornography and sexual assault have asked the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to release them on bail.

Judge Francis Legodi reserved judgment on Thursday in the nine’s appeal against a Pretoria North magistrate’s refusal to grant them bail.

He instructed the advocates appearing in the application to draw up a list of bail conditions in case he decided to grant bail.

Eight of the family members were arrested last year.

They are a grandfather (58), grandmother (57), their two sons from previous relationships, aged 34 and 36, the grandfather’s brother (61), his wife (42) and their son, who is reportedly mentally disabled.


The 26-year-old wife of one of the sons was also arrested.

The ninth person, a 31-year old woman who is the wife of one of the sons, was arrested in January near Hammanskraal.

Interfere
Counsel for the state, Cornelia Harmze, opposed bail, saying there was a strong case against the accused.

There was also a high risk that they would abscond, interfere with state witnesses or commit similar crimes again.

She said the accused would face more than 100 charges and that the state was ready to proceed with the case in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court on December 1 this year.

Harmze said there was evidence that all six of the children involved in the case had been sexually abused by all of the accused.

“These children were trained and showed how to commit sexual acts with each other and with the grandfather,” she said.

“Everything was photographed. All of the accused had some sort of contribution in the sexual acts that took place.”

‘Abuse won’t stop’
Harmze said the children were kept separately after they were removed from the care of the accused and all had made separate statements in which they confirmed the same incidents.

“This has been happening for years and the state cannot think that it will stop,” she said.

“We sit with a very, very serious matter where there are no exceptional circumstances [to justify the granting of bail],” she argued.

Piet Pistorius, for the nine accused, said although the allegations against them were “clearly shocking”, the question in a bail hearing was whether they would be present at a trial.

He said the family did not have the financial means or travel documents to flee the country and must clearly have some kind of viable farming activity on their smallholding as they were able to sustain themselves for the past nine years.

Minding their own business
He said their whole profile was indicative of people minding their own business on their own property.

There was no suggestion that they had clashed with the law before or would not abide with strict bail conditions.

He suggested that bail of between R15 000 and R20 000 and a proviso that they had to report to the police once or twice a day would be sufficient to allay any of the state’s fears.

Pistorius said the accused had already been in custody for over a year and experience showed that “it would be a miracle” if their case was finalised in a year or two in the magistrate’s court.

“What if these allegations are not true? A whole family has been removed from society,” he said.

“It boils down to punitive detention. People can’t be detained indefinitely, especially if their profiles are not suggestive of absconding.” — Sapa

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