Child porn probe not finalised

Victims being counselled by social workers

31 August 2020 | Crime

NAMPA

WINDHOEK



Investigations into the case of a Windhoek resident who was arrested in May for allegedly being involved in the production and sale of child pornography on the dark web are still ongoing.

The accused, 49-year-old Johann Wickus Maree, made his second appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Friday, where the matter was postponed to 4 December to afford the investigation team enough time to complete their investigations.

Maree appeared before Windhoek magistrate Ivan Gawanab.

Prosecutor Sylvia Kauluma informed the court that all statements have now been obtained from the victims involved in the case, but the children are still receiving counselling from several social workers.

According to Kauluma, this is the reason why the police were unable to complete their investigations on time.



Refused bail

It was also made public that Maree has now secured State-funded legal representation, but the Legal Aid-sponsored defence lawyer was not present in court on Friday.

On 5 May, Maree was refused bail when he made his first appearance.

Bail was refused after the State strongly objected because of the serious nature of the charges and because it would not be in the interest of the public or the administration of justice to release him while police investigations were still ongoing.

Other grounds for the refusal of bail were that the accused may abscond from Namibia, because he has family members and relatives residing in South Africa and Australia.



40 charges

It was also reported that a further 14 victims are yet to be identified by the investigation team.

Maree faces 40 charges - eight of child rape, eight of indecent assault, eight of immoral practices, eight of trafficking in persons and eight of allegedly using or forcing children to take part in pornographic activities.

Besides allegedly producing and selling child pornography on obscure internet websites known as the dark web, he is also reported to sustain himself by working as a freelance photographer who specialises in school and sport event photography.

It is alleged that Maree filmed an unspecified number of children aged between nine and 17 while they engaged in sexual acts with each other and with him, before selling the footage on the dark web.

About 20 of the young victims have so far been identified by police detectives.

Maree was arrested in Windhoek's Cimbebasia residential area.