Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 16 Shabaan 1436/04 June 2015

Antony Evans, a child pornography kingpin, has been named and shamed for his misdemeanors. He was slapped with a 10-year prison sentence last week for his crimes. Evans lured children to mimic sexual acts he was showing them online (in chat rooms and elsewhere) by pretending to be a teenager. Unbeknownst to his young victims the children’s videos was recorded and distributed to fellow perverted child pornography consumers. In the end, Evans, whose victims can be found across the globe, including South Africa, made a staggering 65,000-plus videos.

The child pornography trend is worrisome, observed Charmaine Horowitz, speaking on behalf of the Women and Men Against Child Abuse (Wamaca). But, not all is lost, she said, noting that law enforcement authorities have stepped up their game which in turn has turned up the heat on the perverted types.

“We’ve seen a number of these cases emerging, and, really because our statutory services are coming more and more up to date with the technology that is used by the people that are trading in child pornography around the world. In Antony Evans’ case, this is the first time that a so-called kingpin has been found in our country. By that we mean someone (who was) not only a founder of the site but was managing the site,” the Wamaca spokesperson told Cii Radio as the country sadly marks this year’s Child Protection Week.

“What they were doing was pretending to be teenagers, on their computers, and then luring children to mimic or copy sexual activities that they were showing. So they would say: ‘Ok, I’m going to do this, so you do that’, and then they were recording it and distributing it. It was almost like a game. They would score points. And so would the children participating,” she added, explaining the syndicates’ electronic and Internet-based modus operandi that enabled them to engage teenagers in cyberspace where the predators abused kids’ ignorance to get them record themselves in compromised positions.

Even so, some encouraging signs and positive improvements have emerged from this episode, Horowitz said. That is notwithstanding the fact that Evans, a 53-year-old pervert from Grahamstown, should have received an even harsher sentence, she said.

“We’ve seen two things in this case, that have been interesting, is how quickly our legal system has put this case through the courts because he was arrested in March and we have seen sentencing… in May, which is almost unheard of. That is very, very interesting. And of course he got 10 years. It’s a long time.  Our organisation would have liked to have seen more. We would like to see him to be sentenced for each of the charges against him because not only is he manufacturing but he’s distributing, disseminating and viewing,” she said. On the whole, she said Wamaca was encouraged that it took two months for this case to be closed versus the protracted two to four years this averages. Evans was sentenced on Friday, on the eve of the Child Protection Week. It’s bitter-sweet.

Indeed, the perverted Evans, and part of an international child pornography syndicate, pleaded guilty to not only possession of child pornography but distribution and manufacture thereof. His saving grace, which would probably explain this arguably light sentence, was a plea and sentencing agreement he entered into with authorities.

Broadly speaking, too many children as well as women are exposed to violence, said Horowitz, explaining that child pornography is part of a bigger social mess. Cases of child violation in the last three years, in different communities, abound. It remains unclear what businesses, or other sectors of the society, are doing to address this. “What (have the community government) put in place to bring any changes into those (affected) societies? Has anyone built, let’s say, a youth centre or a safe place for children to play – a safe park that is monitored by community members or an NGO or a government department?” Horowitz said part of the fight should be to stimulate children and step up the quality of education as well as provide subjects such as arts and drama.

Added to poor communication between parents and children, which threaten child protection, another issue is that of absence. “Not only do we have large numbers of orphans in our country but we have a lot of absent parents – absent fathers, mothers who are not living in the same house as their children. That’s where we see a lot of neglect and a bigger breakdown in communication,” Horowitz said, adding that even close-knit families are also as exposed.