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Porn judgment shocking: NGO

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Molo Songololo has expressed shock and disgust at a judgement issued by the sexual offences court in Parow, which let a convicted child pornographer seemingly off the hook with a suspended 8 year sentence. Andries Petrus Retief was convicted of luring minors to his farm in Durbanville, where he proceeded to take pornographic videos and photos of them because distributing it via the internet.

But the sentence has provoked a strong rebuttal from the child rights NGO, who were left dismayed at the “lenient” response shown by the magistrate presiding over the case.

Molo Songololo director Patrick Solomon said the case had yielded clear evidence of the pornographic material in the possession of the accused, further highlighting that any and all forms of child pornography possession, distribution or creation were in clear violation of the country’s laws; meaning a much harsher sentence would have been warranted.

“In this particular case he took images, some of which were taken while the children were sleeping. He was deceiving them, he was luring them under false promises, and he was also grooming children (for sexual purposes),” he noted.

The magistrate had suggested several reasons as to the suspended sentence, including insufficient proof that the content would be of detriment to the victims in later years. But Solomon was adamant the ruling did not send out a strong enough warning as to the seriousness of the crime.

“It sends a wrong message, because we believe that all child abuse images should be taken seriously. These are images of children who have been sexualised, and because it is electronic-based these images have most likely been distributed on the internet,” he stressed, insisting the content would have lifelong consequences for Retief’s victims.

The case is yet another to have shed light on the scourge of sexually motivated cases of child abuse in the country. Whilst the South African Department of Justice, in collaboration with the Film and Publications Board and the police have sought to manage and combat cases of child pornography, Solomon said even more was needed in the way of education on the matter.

This included ensuring the criminal justice system was better informed as to how to address such cases. Molo Songololo has given its support for a possible appeal to the judgement, in the hopes that prosecuting authorities will review the case. The organisation are also hoping the court itself will reassess whether the ruling was “sound”. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)


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