Free State Court Issues Historic Sentence in Child Sexual Assault Case

WELKOM – In a landmark ruling, the Free State High Court has imposed a cumulative sentence of 8400 years’ imprisonment on a man for serious child-related sexual offences.

According to South African Police Service, Captain Bez Bezuidenhout of the Provincial Serial and Electronics Crime Investigation (SECI) Unit, part of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit, spearheaded the arrest. The investigation commenced following a notification from Interpol about the suspect’s activities involving the upload of child sexual assault material (CSAM) on the dark web.

The team, including Captain Bezuidenhout, Captain Fanie van der Merwe of the Thabong FCS Unit, and Warrant Officer Pieter de Wahl from the Provincial Local Criminal Record Centre, embarked on an exhaustive analysis of the images received from Interpol. A breakthrough was achieved when a fingerprint on one of the photos led to the identification of the suspect.

The man was apprehended in Welkom in August 2022, and subsequent forensic analysis of his electronic devices supported the pressing of 1,010 distinct charges against him. These charges encompass the rape of two minor boys, one count of human trafficking, and the facilitation and distribution of child pornography.

Mario Guisti, a 36-year-old computer programmer, manipulated young boys, specifically targeting those between the ages of 8 and 10, by offering them computer games. Under the guise of harmless play, he gained the trust of both the victims and their parents, with one boy being transported from Durban to reside with the perpetrator for an extended period.

Guisti stood trial for his heinous crimes and was found guilty of 1,010 charges, including the rape of two boys, human trafficking, and over a thousand counts related to child pornography. The substantial sentence reflects the gravity of his offences, and he has been registered as a sex offender, alongside a declaration of his unsuitability to work with children.