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South Africa: Man Flagged by INTERPOL to South African Police Sentenced to 8,400 years for Child Abuse Offences

A man flagged by INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children (CAC) unit to South African Police Service (SAPS) has been sentenced to 8,400 years for child abuse offences.

After analyzing images found on the dark web, INTERPOL’s specialist officers gathered additional intelligence on the offender, and potential victims, and sent the information to South Africa. Details of the South Africa’s investigation, and the arrest of Mario Guisti, aged 36, can found in the below press release issued by SAPS.

CAC Coordinator, Michael Ferguson said: “Every image of child abuse is evidence of a crime. INTERPOL plays a unique role in bringing together police from around the world to investigate that virtual crime scene, identify the offender and more importantly, rescue the victims. INTERPOL’s global network, combined with the South African Police Service’s hard work and dedication has resulted in a predator being jailed, safeguarding more children from harm.”

Note: More information about INTERPOL’s work to identify and rescue victims of online child sexual abuse is available on our website https://www.interpol.int/Crimes/Crimes-against-children/Our-response-to-crimes-against-children

This includes details of INTERPOL’s Child Sexual Exploitation database, which holds more than 4.3 million images and videos and has helped identify more than 35,000 victims worldwide – on average the database helps identify around 12 victims each day.

The South African Police Service wrote in a related statement:

The Free State High Court has sentenced a man to a total of 8400 years’ imprisonment for sexual offences involving children.

Captain Bez Bezuidenhout, from the Provincial Serial and Electronics Crime Investigation (SECI) Unit, a specialised section within Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit, arrested the suspect, who was flagged by Interpol for uploading CSAM (child sexual assault material) on the dark web.

The investigation team, consisting of Captain Bezuidenhout, Captain Fanie van der Merwe from the Thabong FCS Unit and Warrant Officer Pieter de Wahl from the Provincial Local Criminal Record Centre, worked tirelessly to analyse the information received from Interpol. At first, they only received photos from Interpol and through the eyes of a seasoned detective, a fingerprint was visible on one of the photos in question. Through the analysis of the fingerprint, they could identify the suspect.

As the investigation unfolded, the suspect was traced and arrested in Welkom in the Free State in August 2022. His electronic equipment was seized for analyses. Ultimately, he was charged with 1 010 different charges, ranging from two counts of rape of minor boys, human trafficking and the creation and distribution of child pornography.

The suspect, who is a computer programmer, lured the boys, whom he preferred to be between 8 and 10 years of age, with computer games. The parents of the victims trusted him and allowed the children to stay over at his house, thinking they were playing games. He even got one of the victims to come all the way from Durban to him and stay with him for months.

Mario Guisti (36) was found guilty on 1 010 charges for the rape of two boys, one charge of human trafficking and 1 007 charges of the possession, creation and distribution of child pornography. He was sentenced to a total of 8 400 years’ imprisonment. His name will be recorded in the National Register of Sexual Offenders and he was found unsuitable to work with children.

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