Detective commissioner Nelius Becker said former police reservist Johann Wickus Maree (50) preyed on vulnerable children in need and groomed them for his alleged internet sex business.
Becker, who took the stand yesterday in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court as the first State witness in Maree’s bail application, said the accused chose his victims from families who are less fortunate and are suffering.
He would then entice his victims with gifts and groom them by making the victims watch pornographic contents. Thereafter, he would instruct the minors to perform certain sexual acts on him and or themselves – while being filmed, explained Becker.
Becker strongly opposed the release of Maree on bail pending the finalisation of his case, arguing he has the likelihood of committing similar offences and does not have a fixed address in Namibia.
Furthermore, having been a police officer and private detective, it places Maree in a good position to interfere with investigations and state witnesses, as he knows all his victims.
“We are not dealing with links on the internet. These are minors who are damaged for life. They will always wonder why such things happened to them for the rest of their lives,” explained Becker.
He further testified that Maree’s chain of work was not just well organised, but he was also covering his tracks.
Maree made use of a ProtoMail server, which is highly encrypted for his transactions over the dark web.
The trail of emails, however, link him to a child pornographic business on the dark web.
His work was, however, picked up by the Netherlands police, who then alerted Namibian authorities. The Netherlands police arrested one of their countrymen linked to Maree’s dealings, said Becker.
Through their investigations, Becker said the police were able to identify and trace the victims from the school badges on the shirts they wore while being taped.
Maree is charged with eight counts of rape, eight counts of indecent assault, eight charges of committing an immoral act with a child under the age of 16, eight counts of trafficking in persons by recruiting minor boys to subject them to sexual exploitation, and eight charges of using children to create child pornography.
He has denied all charges thus far.
Although the police have a confession from Maree, in which he admits to all the allegations, he testified yesterday that he made the confession under duress.
He testified that the police made a deal with him that should he confess to some of the allegations, they would allow him to see his dogs and not involve the victims and their children in the case.
He was also promised that he would be released on bail.
He said the police told him what to write in his confession.
Maree said he agreed to the deal, as he did not want the children to be subjected to cross-examination in court, as he regards the victims and their families as his family.
He said the police are yet to fulfil their end of the deal, as he has not seen his dogs since his arrest on 30 April 2020.
The hearing will continue today.