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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor


‘Danger to children’: Court denies bail to alleged child groomer and porn distributor

Sannon Angelo Manuel, charged with child grooming and pornography offenses, was denied bail after being deemed a danger to children.


A father, accused of being a child groomer and child pornography distributor, was denied bail after the court found him to be a danger to his and other people’s children.

Sannon Angelo Manuel, 32, charged with child grooming, illegal possession of child pornography, illegal distribution of child pornography and unlawful manufacture of child pornography, was denied bail by the Mitchells Plain Magistrates Court, Western Cape on Tuesday after he failed to show exceptional circumstances that justified his release.

From child porn collector to child porn creator

In his bail application, Manuel told the court that he was the breadwinner who supported his wife, two minor children, his father, and sister. He said he was in good health, but it was likely to deteriorate in Pollsmoor Prison as the conditions were filthy and overcrowded.

Senior state advocate Evadne Kortje, however, told the court that preliminary forensic analysis revealed that Manuel, who transformed from an ardent child pornography collector to a child pornography creator, used phishing to select and recruit his unsuspecting minor victims.

He was arrested on 19 January 2024, following a tip-off from United States Homeland Security about him being part of an international syndicate that groomed, manufactured, and distributed child pornography.

Manuel was found to be a user of a social media site where he could view CSAM photos and build up his collection of child porn.

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“Preliminary forensic investigation indicates he amassed a collection of 115 000 images and 20 000 videos of child pornography between 12 April 2021, and 19 January 2024,” National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

Minor victims blackmailed and threatened

The state called on investigating officers Captain Shaun van der Heever and Warrant Officer Barnard, who testified that so far, they have identified two minor victims aged 12 and 14 from the Goodwood and Milnerton areas, and two other victims have not been identified.

The investigating officers told the court that Manuel would allegedly befriend minors by pretending to be the same age as them and sending them someone who was their peer.

“He inquired about their addresses, the layout of their homes, the security systems at their homes, their family members, and whether they had younger siblings, and then requested that they send him pictures and videos of their private parts,” Ntabazalila said.

“They would send those to ‘their friend’ and as soon as they sensed that something was wrong, they would demand, blackmail them, and threaten to post the images and videos on social media.”

The court heard that the victims went along with his demands out of fear of what their friends and family would say after seeing the pictures and videos. The victims believed they were in a relationship with him because they were so convinced by his lies.

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Victims wondering what happened to their ‘boyfriend’

Kortje argued that Manuel benefitted, participated in, and contributed to the mass sexual exploitation of children around the world.

Due to the nature of his offences, more victims and witnesses will be identified after the full forensic analysis of the evidence from Manuel’s cell phone.

According to Magistrate ZT Varoyi’s judgment, Manuel’s victims were wondering what had happened to their boyfriend because he had not been in contact with them. Although they don’t know Manuel, he knows their houses, families, and security systems.

“He has managed to groom and manipulate them to the point where they must comply with his demands. Not only other people’s children must be protected, but his children also need to be protected against him,” Ntabazalila said.

After the denial of his bail application, the matter was postponed to 27 June for further investigation.

27 child porn manufacturers and distributors identified in SA

According to the NPA, there were over 300 000 chat groups on social media, of which 35 large groups were actively manufacturing and distributing child pornography.

Out of the operation, 27 targets in the country were identified, and four targets in the Western Cape, including Manuel, were all arrested and have appeared before courts.

ALSO READ: Kempton Park parents receive life and 25-year sentences for unspeakable acts against their children