South Africa News

Mitchells Plain father accused of filming & distributing child p0rn denied bail

A man accused of grooming children, filming, and distributing child p0rn0graphy will spend more time behind bars, after the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court denied him bail on Tuesday.

Sannon Angelo Manuel appeared in court on charges of child grooming, illegal possession of child p0rn0graphy, illegal distribution of child p0rn0graphy, and unlawful manufacture of child p0rn0graphy.

The National Prosecuting Authority said the court declined to grant Manuel bail after the court found that his own two children needed protection from him.

“The 32-year-old Mitchells Plain man was arrested in January after Homeland Security, in the United States, tipped local police off about Manuel’s alleged involvement in an international syndicate that groomed children and manufactured and shared child p0rn0graphy,” said NPA spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila.

He said Manuel was identified as a user of a social media platform in which he accessed child s.e.xual abuse material images, whereby he accumulated his child p0rn0graphy collection.

“Preliminary forensic investigation indicates he amassed a collection of 115,000 images and 20,000 videos of child p0rn0graphy between 12 April 2021, and 19 January 2024. There were over 300 000 chat groups on the social media group of which 35 large groups were actively manufacturing and distributing child p0rn0graphy.

“Out of the operation, 27 targets in the country were identified and four targets in the Western Cape were all arrested and have appeared before courts,” Ntabazalila explained.

Schedule 6 bail application

The NPA said in his Schedule 6 bail application, where he was expected to show that there were exceptional circumstances that justified his release on bail and that it was in the interest of justice to be released on bail, he told the court that he was a breadwinner who supported his wife, two minor children, his father, and sister.

“He was in good health, but it is likely to deteriorate as prison conditions at Pollsmoor Prison were filthy and overcrowded with poor ventilation. He feared losing his employment if his incarceration continued,“ the NPA said.

“Senior State Advocate Evadne Kortje told the court that preliminary forensic analysis revealed that Manuel transformed from an ardent child p0rn0graphy collector to a child pornography creator. He used the highly deceptive and skilled method of “phishing” to select and recruit his unsuspecting minor victims,” Ntabazalila stated.

Investigating officers, Captain Shaun van der Heever and Warrant Officer Barnard, were called to testify and told the court that two victims aged 12 and 14 have already been identified. They live in the Goodwood and Milnerton areas. Two other victims are yet to be identified.

The court heard how Manuel would allegedly befriend minors and get them to send him images of their private parts. He would then blackmail them and out of fear, the youngsters would comply.

Gender-based violence

The State argued that Manuel faces charges related to gender-based violence and due to the nature of his offences, more victims and witnesses will be identified after the full forensic analysis of the evidence from the applicant’s cell phone.

“In her judgment, Magistrate ZT Varoyi said the victims were wondering what had happened to their boyfriend as he had not communicated with them. They do not know him, but he knows them, their families, their homes, and the security at their homes. The investigation is incomplete as both identified victims’ statements are outstanding. They need to be taken for counselling before being informed of what has happened. Their families also do not know what has happened to their children,” Ntabazalila said.

He will remain in custody and is due back in court on June 27.

-IOL News

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