The high court in Johannesburg has found Gerhard Ackerman (52) guilty of rape and sexual exploitation of children. The convicted rapist faced more than 730 charges, which included human trafficking, sexual grooming and possession of child pornography.
Ackerman was charged alongside senior advocate Paul Kennedy who committed suicide shortly after he was arrested in 2022. The 52-year-old used his massage parlour to house the young victims and forced them to perform sexual acts with his clients for a fee.
Handing down the ruling on Monday, Judge Ismail Mohamed told the court that it’s clear that Ackerman made a living off the sexual exploitation of children.
“The accused worked with others to lure these children by approaching them on Facebook to recruit them to the massage business. In doing so the children were harboured at the accused’s place of residence to perform these sexual acts on his clients for payment,” said Judge Mohamed.
The Judge further revealed that the proceeds received by the boys from clients were shared with Ackerman. He has dismissed Ackerman’s claims that the boys were willing participants in the heinous act.
“When the accused testified he remarked that the boys were over the age of 16 years and that they participated voluntarily, this is an disingenuous argument because he targeted the children and exploited their vulnerabilities,” Judge Mohamed said.
Ackerman was also found guilty of attempted murder for handing over children to Kennedy whom he knew was HIV positive.
The matter will return to court on July 18.
Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza