August 04 2007 at 12:42PM
By Noor-Jehan Yoro Badat and Kashiefa Ajam
He created a website where he advertised naked pictures of his 15-year-old daughter for men to "rent" her for sexual acts at just R500 a time.
On Friday, the 39-year-old father and his friend, a former police officer, also aged 39, applied for bail in the Potchefstroom magistrate's court - and got it.
The two face charges under the Sexual Offences Act.
'Where will this child end up now?'
Police believe there may be other young children involved.
Investigating officer Inspector Stokkies Grundlingh said he had received a tip-off from an unknown source who told him about the website where the girl was advertised. The North West police then launched a sting operation to catch the two men in the act.
The police called the number on the website and the father answered. He told them it would cost R500 to have sex with his daughter. The next day the friend delivered the child to an undercover police officer of the Potchefstroom Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit The friend then accepted the money.
The child was taken to a room where Grundlingh and other police officers waited. She undressed for them immediately, but Grundlingh told her to put her clothes back on.
He then called the friend and told him to come to the police station. He also contacted the father. Both men were arrested on Tuesday.
In affidavits handed in to the court on Friday, both men said they had confessed to a magistrate and declared their previous convictions.
The town's local newspaper, the Potchefstroom Herald, which sourced its information from the archives of a daily Afrikaans newspaper, reported that the father and his wife were sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of R8 000 in 1997, after luring schoolboys to watch strip shows at their brothel in Reitz Street.
They were convicted of running a brothel, prostituting and involving minors in indecent acts, among other charges.
At the time, probation officer Annette Venter said the couple showed no remorse.
Barely 10 months after their appeal in March 1998, the couple hosted a strip show, featuring the wife and two other women, for students in the town.
The bail conditions of the couple, who lived in Pretoria, included that they may not visit Potchefstroom without the permission of the investigating officer.
The local newspaper also reported that the friend, a suspended police officer, was allegedly involved in the running of the brothel, but the police were initially unable to capture him.
He and an accomplice were arrested in 1998 in connection with several violations of the Sexual Offences Act.
The charges included running a brothel, prostituting, kidnapping and conspiracy to dishonour.
He and his fiance allegedly recruited two girls, aged 14 and 15, to work as prostitutes at a brothel in Klerksdorp.
On Friday State prosecutor Hester Pretorius opposed bail, using the case of Cozanne Visser, whose lover, Dirk Prinsloo, fled the country while out on bail, as an example.
Prinsloo is still missing.
Prinsloo and Visser were charged with soliciting a 15-year-old to commit indecent acts on different occasions and indecently assaulting a younger girl in 2002.
Despite this, however, magistrate S Jansen granted the Potchefstroom pair bail.
The father was given R3 000 bail while his friend was freed on R1 500 bail.
Their bail conditions stipulate that they may not to leave the Potchefstroom district without the permission of the investigating officer and must report to the Potchefstroom police station three times a week.
The police are investigating the involvement of other minors and the police have names of other children.
Grundlingh said in court that the 15-year-old girl had gone for a medical examination on Friday and had been placed in the custody of her grandmother.
He said she "seemed traumatised and afraid".
North West police spokesperson Superintendent Louis Jacobs indicated that "there might be additional charges to come after the investigation is completed".
He added that they had not determined yet how long the website had been running. Jacobs would not comment on whether the website had been pulled off the Internet, except to say that it was forming part of their investigation.
When the two accused made their first appearance on Wednesday, both appeared tired and sat sombre-faced in the dock.
The second accused, the friend, briefly nodded to his wife, who sat behind him in the public gallery.
Before he was taken back into custody, he reached out to hold his her hand and tried to speak to her, but magistrate C Eekly reprimanded him and ordered him to go back to the cells.
Outside Court A, his wife declined to talk to reporters.
Her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She seemed tired and bewildered.
"I'm just not feeling up to it (talking)," she said.
News of the two men's arrest shocked the local community; many could not believe that such depravity could exist under their noses.
Mary Botha said: "It's terrible. If I had known this was happening, I would have spoken up about it. I'm shocked".
Lorraine Geldenhuys said: "Where will this child end up now? They've ruined her life."
The case has been postponed to August 30.