Pastor porn scandal

Rondebosch is in shock following the arrest of a 26-year-old church youth pastor who allegedly posed as a teenage girl to lure teenage boys into sharing nudes pictures of themselves with him.

More than 60 boys between the ages of 14 and 17 are believed to have fallen prey to the pastor who allegedly hacked into their social media accounts and posed as a teenage girl to coax the boys into sending the nude pictures.

When the boys wanted to stop sharing photos, the suspect’s female alias would threaten them with online exposure.

According to national SAPS media spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, most of the boys would then turn to their youth pastor for advice on how to handle the person bullying them online.

“He would advise them to continue doing what that individual wanted which constitutes, on his part, failing to report knowledge of the commission of a sexual offence with children,” said Brigadier Naidoo.

The SAPS’s Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit and as well as American Homeland Security investigated the case, and the pastor was arrested on Tuesday September 5.

He appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Friday September 8 and was charged with possession of child pornography and failing to report knowledge of the commission of a sexual offence with children.

The case was postponed till Tuesday October 17 and the pastor was released on R1 000 bail.

According to Brigadier Naidoo more victims have come forward since the case has gone to court and additional charges will probably be added at a later stage as the investigation progresses. The suspect was previously a pastor at the Rondebosch Common Ground Church and was a youth pastor at Common Ground Constantiaberg in Orpen Road until his suspension, following his arrest.

He is also a UCT Master’s graduate in environmental and geographical science living in Rondebosch and is a professional sports photographer who is well known on the school sports fields in Rondebosch.

Rondebosch police spokesperson Warrant Officer Lyndon Sisam said the pastor was registered as an informer and would inform the police about parties in the area where drugs and alcohol were used. The pastor had also attempted to apply to become a police reservist but his application had not considered because he did not have a South African ID.

Founder and co-leader of the Common Ground Church, Rigby Wallace, said in a statement that the church had been alerted by the parents of a 14-year-old boy to the situation and the church leaders had immediately notified the Hawks and had fully co-operated with the investigating officers, which had led to the arrest of the suspect.

“We’re absolutely gutted that young lives have been so negatively impacted by one of our own employees, who was a trusted youth leader. In line with our child protection policy, this individual had the necessary police clearance. We are going to further review all our systems to ensure we get even better at protecting our children.

“We are the party bringing charges against this individual, and hope to see justice fully served. The wellbeing of the many victims, as well as that of their families, is our highest concern at this point. We have established a confidential helpline to assist those affected, and made professional counsellors available,” said Mr Wallace.