Defence attorney William Booth says he has received anonymous threats for his defence of two men accused of sexual offences against minors, but will not turn his back on his clients.
Up to five letters per day have been delivered to his home and office and he has also received SMSes, he told News24 on Monday.
“It is intimidatory and complete harassment,” Booth said.
In his 25 years as a lawyer, he has never received such personal threats, he continued.
The letters are mostly anonymous and consist of letters cut out of reading material and pasted on a sheet.
“In it, the writer asks how I can defend such people,” he said.
Some letters also contain a picture of a child with the message asking how he can defend suspected paedophiles.
On Monday, he appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court for the defence of a 32-year-old teacher accused of fondling a number of boys, aged 9 and 10, during music lessons at Reddam House in Constantia.
According to the school, the suspect’s contract as an “independent music service provider” was terminated with immediate effect in May following allegations of “inappropriate conduct”.
The case was postponed to November 16 and was transferred to the Wynberg Regional Court
Booth was also defending a Fish Hoek man accused of being part of a child pornography ring. The 47-year-old suspect was arrested last month along with three other suspects in Hercules, Pretoria by specialised detectives from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit.
The suspects’ alleged activities were reported to the unit by police in Antwerp, Belgium, after they arrested a Belgian resident for the production, possession and facilitation of child pornographic images.
POSSIBLE FRINGE GROUP
A fringe group may be behind the threats, Booth believed, insisting that he was “not saying it’s the parents” of the victims.
“It’s important for the public to remember that we are innocent until proven guilty. Let the cases run their course.”
When asked if he fears for his safety, he pointed out that the threats could not simply be dismissed.
“Things can happen. [One of the writers] could be a loose cannon.
“Anyone is allowed to criticise and carry a placard expressing their views. But while I am very much in favour of people having their say, intimidation cannot be condoned.”
Booth said he would consider laying criminal charges, but this is difficult as the identity of the writers cannot yet be confirmed. News24