SOUTH AFRICA – A Lenasia man who took 45 pornographic pictures of a 12-year-old child in exchange for clothes and food has failed three times to convince the courts to overturn his sentence.

A lower court earlier sentenced Aardiel Esppo to 10 years imprisonment after he was convicted on 45 charges of contravening the Films and Publications Act, as well as kidnapping.

Unhappy with the fact that the magistrate compared his case to another in which a man was sentenced to 10 years for 144 pornographic transgressions, Essop appealed to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

He felt that the 45 pictures he took paled in comparison to that of the 144 in the case that he was compared to. However, Judge Judy Kollapen also turned down his appeal.

Still aggrieved by his 10-year sentence, Essop turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal, where two judges again confirmed that he deserved nothing less than 10 years in jail for his despicable acts committed against a “mere child”.

“The appellant exploited her obviously distressed background for his personal gratification,” they said. The judges commented that kidnapping alone was a serious offence, which if punished separately, could easily attract a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment.

Essop earlier pleaded guilty to taking pictures of the child. When he was arrested, the police found the pictures on his camera and Essop had no means of explaining it away. Essop, also a father, explained that in 2014 he visited the Lenasia shopping mall. En route to his residence as he drove in the direction of Johannesburg south, he saw the complainant at an intersection.

He stopped at the traffic light and the complainant knocked on his car window. She asked for a lift to the nearby informal settlement. He allowed her to get into his car. According to him, she signalled to him her preparedness to do him a favour in exchange for the lift. Essop said he understood her as offering him masturbation or oral sex.

He told her that he would take her to his home where he would give her food and she could take a bath. She agreed. On arrival at his home, she was offered a shower and clean clothing. While not disputing his wrongdoing, he felt 10 years in jail was excessive.


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