A 40-year-old Plettenberg Bay man was arrested on charges of grooming, sexual assault, and statutory rape in what the Green Hearts organisation (who works with victims of abuse) believe is part of a ‘sex ring’ that may involve as much as 20 underaged victims.
The man appeared on Monday in the Plettenberg Bay Magistrate’s Court in the Western Cape and was remanded in custody for the vetting of an alternative address and for a bail application to be heard next Thursday.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies says the Family Violence, Child Protection, and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS), based in George, is investigating three cases reported to police in Plettenberg Bay earlier this month.
Spies says investigations revealed that a man violated two 15-year-old girls in unrelated incidents on May 5 and 6.
“These incidents were reported to police by persons of trust, and the man was taken into custody,” he says. “Kindly be advised that the name of the accused cannot be divulged at this stage due to certain prescripts with regard to suspects in sexual-related matters.”
Spies also says there is more than one case in Plettenburg being investigated by the FCS.
“Furthermore, another case has surfaced and is still under investigation. It is alleged that the man took a group of girls from Plettenberg Bay to Knysna on May 8, where he made inappropriate suggestions to them,” he explains.
“The suspect, who is currently in custody, is yet to be processed in connection with this matter.
“Investigation into all [the] cases are ongoing.”
According to Green Hearts, a non-profit organisation specialising in supporting families and victims of child abuse, the organisation became aware of the matter in early April and mobilised support for the families and victims.
Janet Harding of Green Hearts said it is believed that more than 20 children may be involved ‘in this sex ring’ and that the abuse spans many years. She said a petition against the granting of bail to the accused is being circulated.
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