17 February 2007

South Africa: Cellphone Sex Movie Gets Two Cops Fired

Johannesburg — Two Johannesburg Metro policemen have been fired a year after they allegedly used a cellphone to film themselves having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

David Tembe, director of operations at Metro Police, said Vaughn Dooms, 22, and Kester de Vos, 24, were dismissed on Wednesday for bringing the city council into disrepute.

The following day De Vos and Dooms appeared briefly in the Protea Magistrate's Court in Soweto on charges of contravening the Films and Publication Act by making child pornography available. The case was postponed to February 23.

"These officers were trusted in law enforcement and we really condemn their behaviour and what they've done," Tembe said.

"They have lost their salaries, benefits, their uniforms and guns. They are police officers no more."

Their dismissal follows a protracted internal inquiry into allegations that the pair - who worked as Metro Police officers for one year - filmed the teenager on a cellphone camera, distributed the footage and placed it on the internet between February and May last year.

Tembe acknowledged that the inquiry had "dragged on" since September 2006 but blamed this on "due process". Their dismissal, he said, was largely driven by the publicity the case generated..

"It didn't come as a complaint to us. We saw the newspaper articles and on that basis they were bringing us into disrepute.

"We couldn't question the victim but used our own officers and the evidence we had. We were on the front page, the radio, all over the world we want to send a strong message to our officers that they must behave properly while on and off duty."

The pair received more than R70 000 in pay from the time they were suspended eight months ago.

Last year one of the officers boasted on radio: "I'm a cop. I've been drinking all day. I'm smoking drugs, marijuana. This kind of thing happens every day."

Tembe said: "The employees never showed any remorse nor were they sorry for what had happened.

"They pleaded not guilty and their version was simply that what they did, happened after hours, behind closed doors."

Lynne Cawood, director of Childline in Gauteng welcomed the men's dismissal.

"We are delighted they have taken steps to remove these people from positions of power over children," she said.

"We look forward to the actual criminal case verdict and hope for a successful outcome."

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