‘Advocate Barbie’ wins round 1 of battle

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By SAPA

Cezanne Visser, the former advocate who became known as “Advocate Barbie”, has won the first round of her battle for release from prison.

Visser is presently serving a seven-year jail term for indecently assaulting young girls and women, the manufacture and possession of child pornography, and defrauding a children's home.

She started serving her sentence in May 2010 after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed her application for leave to appeal.

Visser launched a review application in the High Court in Pretoria after the parole board in August found she was not a suitable candidate for the conversion of her sentence into correctional supervision.

Judge Tati Makgoka on Friday set aside the decision.

He ordered the case management committee to prepare all relevant documentation, including reports by Visser's social worker and psychologist, within the next 21 days.

The parole board was ordered to consider Visser's suitability for recommendation to the sentencing court, for the conversion of her sentence to correctional supervision before January 31 next year.

The parole board ruled that Visser should serve the sentence imposed on her because of the seriousness of the crime, the number of victims involved, the negative impact of the crimes on the community and on her child victims.

The board said Visser had, as an advocate, betrayed less-learned victims, as she had abused her position of trust and “misled poor, disadvantaged children”.

Visser's advocate argued she was a “model prisoner” and that the board was biased. She had participated in a restorative justice programme, obtained a certificate in a skills development project, and was appointed as a tutor in adult basic education in English in jail.

Makgoka found the board's decision had been arbitrary and capricious because the decision was made without all the prescribed information being available. This included updated reports by a social worker and psychologist.

In addition, the views of the victims and their families also needed to be considered.

Makgoka said it was clear the victims wished to exercise their right to make representations and had not been informed of the parole board's sitting.

Access to the victims would be facilitated by an attorney representing two of the young victims. - Sapa

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