April 24, 2017

Man saved from prison term after exposing minor to porn

A Bloemfontein man this week narrowly escaped prison when he received a suspended five-year sentence after being found guilty by the Bloemfontein Regional Court of exposing a minor to pornographic material.

Thabiso Joseph Seeco, 32, was arrested on September 27, 2014 after he was accused of showing explicit pornographic material to a boy then aged 10 years old, during a family gathering in Phahameng Township in Bloemfontein with the intention of grooming him for sex.
During the five-year period, Seeco is not supposed to commit a crime of similar nature. His name will also be added to the Sexual Offences Register, meaning he will not be allowed to work with children again.

Delivering judgement on Wednesday, Magistrate Letlhogonolo Moeng said while Seeco had pleaded not guilty to the offence, the testimonies given by the complainant and his mother – the only witnesses in the matter – had proven beyond reasonable doubt that he had committed an offence.

He said while testimonies from minors should be treated with caution, he could rely on the evidence of the complainant as he was not pressured into doing so and that his testimony in court was cohesive and eloquent.
“You pleaded not guilty saying you didn’t intentionally show the pornographic material to the complainant,” said Moeng.

“You said a friend gave you some material on a memory card… and as you played music on your phone, some pornographic material started showing. You said you briefly viewed it not knowing that the child was watching. You disputed that you showed the video to the child. But according to the complainant, you showed him two video clips with pornographic material.

“The evidence of the complainant was in my view satisfactory. Given that evidence from child witnesses is not always chronological and despite his age, his evidence was cohesive and he understood the gravity of his evidence. The complainant’s version is more probable than that of the accused,” the magistrate added.

Sentence was handed down yesterday.

Earlier, the state, led by Thumeka Jama had argued that it was not in dispute that the child had viewed the pornographic material from Seeco’s phone and that the complainant had reported the matter to his mother almost immediately.

“The victim reported the matter to the mother in the evening, which was almost immediately,” said Jama.

“The child reported without being confronted and therefore there was no reason for him to falsely implicate the accused. Even though there might have been some contradictions in the testimony of the complainant, we must remember that the case happened in 2014 and that the complainant was only 10 years old. Therefore, the court must not lose sight of common sense. The complainant had no reason to falsely accuse someone,” she added.

Seeco’s lawyer, Thonoko Modise from Legal Aid argued that the circumstances, as presented by the complainant did not add up.

He also urged the court to treat the child’s evidence with caution fearing it might work negatively on his client.
“There is only a single witness to the actual crime and that witness is a child. The evidence of the child should be treated with caution because it’s a child,” said Modise.

The matter was transferred from the magistrate’s court in August last year for trial after a series of delays in the investigation and postponements for nearly two years following Seeco’s arrest.

Seeco had been invited as a friend to the family that was holding the traditional ceremony. The court found that he called the boy as he was playing with other children, and showed him the material which was stored on his phone.

Seeco then tried to lure the young boy to nearby shops saying that he would buy him some yoghurt and then go with him to his house.

Shocked by the visuals, the boy refused to accompany him and later told his mother about his ordeal. The complainant testified that the material contained both black and white people.

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