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Twist in child porn case

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The convicted child rapist and pornographer was due to be sentenced on Thursday.

Roelof du Toit.Picture: Soraya Crowie

IN A SURPRISE twist, convicted Warrenton child rapist and pornographer Roelof du Toit, who was due to have been sentenced yesterday, changed his earlier guilty plea to not guilty.

Du Toit has already been found guilty on two charges of compelled rape, after admitting to compelling two children to commit acts of sexual penetration with each other in April this year.

Du Toit was also found guilty of four counts of using children for child pornography.

He also previously pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography after being found in possession of films and publications which contained depictions, descriptions or scenes of child pornography or which advocates, advertises, encourages or promotes child pornography or the sexual exploitation of children. This included 307 video files and 861 image files of children exposing their genitals, engaging in sexual intercourse or touching, sucking or licking each other’s genitals, as well as 861 image files of children.

On the last charge, Du Toit was found guilty of the distribution of child pornography after distributing seven videos of the two young victims engaged in acts of a sexual nature.

In his plea explanation, Du Toit said that he had “become very close” to the two victims and that “due to the fact that he had certain perceptions regarding nudity and intimate role-playing” he had “influenced the two boys to play with each other and to penetrate their respective bodies”.

All the crimes took place between January 2012 and January 2014 in the area of Delportshoop.

After Du Toit fired his previous legal representative, Rian Bode, and appointed Tabitha Rhadebe from Legal Aid, Rhadebe informed the court of her client’s decision to change his plea.

The State prosecutor, Ronewa Makhaga, said it was up to the accused to provide compelling reasons for changing his plea.

“It will then be up to the court to decide whether the reasons are compelling enough to change its decision. The accused does not have the onus to decide himself if his reasons are compelling enough, it is for the court to decide.”

When Rhadebe was asked why Du Toit wanted to change his plea, she said that his previous legal representative compelled him to plead guilty.

Magistrate Memory Qomoyi said that she would have to study the case law surrounding a plea change. The case has been postponed until next week and Du Toit remains in custody.

Du Toit, a music teacher at the time, was arrested in Kimberley in January 2014 on charges of possessing, manufacturing and distributing child pornography, as well as sexually assaulting children, after an American police agent, posing as a 15-year-old, started corresponding with him via e-mail.

It was reported at the time of his arrest that Du Toit was found living with an 11-year-old homeless child in his New Park home in Kimberley.

Du Toit’s e-mail address was apparently obtained after pornographic material was sent from his address to a network of more than 40 people involved in child pornography in America.

Pictures of the boy who was found living with him had allegedly also been distributed by Du Toit.

He also reportedly told police about another boy, aged 10, who was also molested and photographed by him.

More than two years after his arrest, in May 2016, Du Toit’s case was scrapped from the roll by Magistrate Renier Pieterse in the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court as the State “did not have its house in order”.

Pieterse’s ruling came after none of the witnesses, some hailing from the US, or the (then) State prosecutor, Tshepo Sebego, were present in court on the day.

However, the case was placed back on the roll last year when Du Toit pleaded guilty to nine charges and was convicted accordingly in April 2019.