Five Accused in Plett Child Sex Case in Court

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BYLINE: Neil Oelofse Garden Route Media

The five accused in the alleged Plettenberg Bay child sex ring appeared in court again yesterday for a bail condition amendment.

Prosecutor Alda Mills asked the court to lift the house arrest ruling imposed on Danish national Rene Carstensen, 66, and 43-year-old Llewellyn Davids, the ANC chairman in Kranshoek, when they applied for bail last week.

The house arrest conditions were replaced by correctional supervision, in terms of which the two men will be monitored and subjected to unscheduled visits by Correctional Services officials.

House arrest conditions will remain in place for Carmen Manuel, 27, also from Kranshoek, while Carstensen's Malawian partner, Hilda Makhilinga, 26, is still in custody, apparently because she is an illegal immigrant.

Bail of R500 was extended to the fifth accused, 63-year-old Austrian artist Peter Planicka.

All five have been charged with sexual assault, "grooming" (preparing an under-aged victim for sex), sexual exploitation and showing pornography to minors. The charges are said to date back four years and allegedly involve underage girls from disadvantaged communities in Kranshoek and an impoverished community living at The Barracks in Harkerville.

Lawyers for Carstensen and Manuel yesterday complained that witnesses in the case had attempted to contact their clients.

The first prosecution witness on the State's list had tried to phone Carstensen, while witness number 44 had stood outside Manuel's home and shouted for her. Both attempts to communicate were rebuffed, the lawyers said.

"The State must ensure that their witnesses do not contact the accused," said Frans Fischer, for Carstensen.

Accused number one, Carstensen, has a history of child molestation accusations against him, going back 10 years when he was first charged with 22 counts of sexual abuse, only to be acquitted after 12 complainants withdrew their affidavits, claiming they had been coerced to implicate the Dane.

Community workers say he is known for helping poor people in the Harkerville forest area near his estate. …