CAPE TOWN, September 9 – The South African Police Service’s serial and electronic crimes investigation (SECI) section of the family violence, child protection, and sexual offences (FCS) unit has arrested a 26-year-old youth pastor in Cape Town for possession of child pornography and failing to report knowledge of the commission of a sexual offence with children.
The pastor, employed by a church in Rondebosch in Cape Town, was reported to police by the parents of an alleged 14-year-old victim on August 31, police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said.
Western Cape FCS officers, together with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), as well as United States of America’s homeland security department jointly investigated the case before they arrested the suspect on September 5 at the church premises. During his arrest, police seized several electronic items, including cellphones, a laptop, a tablet, and memory cards, which would be sent for analysis, he said.
“The suspect allegedly hacked into his victims’ social media accounts and exchanged naked photos with some of the boys in his church under the pretext that he was a girl. When the boys, aged between 14 and 17, decided to stop, he would then threaten them with online exposure of their pictures.
“Most of the boys would then go to him, as the man of the cloth, to seek advice on how to handle the person bullying them online. He would then advise them to continue doing what that individual wanted which constitutes, on his part, failing to report knowledge of the commission of a sexual offence with children,” Naidoo said.
“The suspect was also found in possession of electronic items, including cellphones, laptop, memory cards, and a tablet which belonged to one of the parents. These too will be sent for analysis.”
Additional charges would probably be added at a later stage as the investigation progressed, as it was suspected that as many as 60 children may have fallen victim to him, Naidoo said.