Cape Town lawyer who paid underage street kids R100 for anal sex, found guilty

A man, who worked as a lawyer, has been convicted on sexual exploitation and statutory rape charges for having sex with underage street kids, for amounts of R100.

Theo Hartzenberg, a former Legal Aid attorney, was convicted in the Wynberg Regional Court for sexually exploiting underage street kids by having sex with them for R100 behind the colourful bungalows at the Muizenberg Beach. Picture: Supplied/IOL

Published Feb 28, 2024


A Cape Town lawyer who sexually exploited street children, paying them amounts of R100 for sexual deeds, has been found guilty on charges of statutory rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and engaging in sexual services of a person 18 years or older.

Theo Hartzenberg, a former Legal Aid attorney, was convicted in the Wynberg Regional Court.

The Western Cape spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Eric Ntabazalila said it welcomed the conviction.

The State said it will be calling for the court to impose the maximum sentence of the prescribed minimum sentence for sexual exploitation of children, which is 15 years direct imprisonment.

Cape Town lawyer Theo Hartzenberg. File Picture: Independent Newspapers

During the trial, Hartzenberg pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him.

The incidents took place in 2021. Many witnesses, who were Hartzenberg’s victims, testified that they were paid to penetrate him.

One of the witnesses, a 21-year-old man who has been homeless since he was 18, testified that he knew Hartzenberg as a lawyer who stayed in the block of flats in Muizenberg close to Muizenberg Beach.

The witness said he got to know Hartzenberg from other boys and met him when he was with a friend. He saw Hartzenberg coming from his flat heading towards the beach.

Hartzenberg went behind a wall with a red roof and the witness and his friend followed. Hartzenerg called the friend and the witness had to be a lookout as the two had sex. The witness was paid R100 for being a lookout. The following day, Hartzenburg, the friend and another boy had sex and they were each paid R100, the court heard.

After the second incident, the witness told the court he had informed other boys they could have sex with Hartzenberg and get paid.

They would then sit and wait for him to come from his apartment to the beach, follow him, wait as he finished smoking, have sex, get paid R100 and then leave.

The court heard Hartzenberg would not speak to the boys. The witness admitted to using the money he received for food and glue (to sniff) and mandrax.

The court heard sex-for-money with Hartzenberg was a regular thing. Monday to Friday and on weekends, sex would take place in one of the ‘cookies’ (the colourful bungalows at Muizenberg Beach).

The witness alleged the boys would enter or go to the adjacent bungalow where they would get in one by one and have sex with Hartzenberg and he would pay them R100 each time.

A 16-year-old witness, who testified via CCTV camera facilities, corroborated the evidence of the first witness to a tee.

The court heard during his testimony that on the first occasion he attempted to have sex with Hartzenberg, he could not get an erection and was paid R100. On other occasions, he and the other boys had sex with Hartzenberg at the ‘cookies’ on weekends and were each paid R100.

He further testified boys who could not get an erection would get paid R50.

He was a school learner, but admitted he’d bunk school on Fridays and beg at the beach. The court heard his parents were unaware of this happening.

Hartzenberg refused to testify before he would call a witness to testify. This was not accepted by the court. Hartzenberg continued to refuse to testify in his own defence and the court closed the case.

State Prosecutor Jacqueline Hefele told the magistrate that Hartzenberg knew the victims were street children and, therefore, were vulnerable and easily exploited.

“The accused knew the victims, as he admitted to giving them money and food, and the witnesses had no reason to fabricate evidence against their benefactor,” Hefele submitted.

The evidence against Hartzenberg was overwhelming.

“There was no reason why the court should not find that the State witnesses were honest and their evidence reliable. It accepts that the accused solicited the services of the complainants to provide him with sexual services in return for monetary payments.

“The court accepts that he got them to sexually penetrate his anus with their penises in return for money,” Magistrate A Jacobs said.

The matter has been postponed until April 18 for sentencing proceedings.

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