Pretoria tattoo artist Robbie “Goggaman” Classen, will know next Thursday whether the court believes he performed sadistic Satanic rituals on children, or whether he is the innocent victim of his odd appearance.
The Pretoria High Court is set to deliver judgment then on whether Classen should be convicted on 10 charges, including rape, molestation and abduction.
Three siblings – a seven-year-old girl and her brothers, nine and 11 – have claimed bizarre incidents took place while they were living at Schubart Park flats in the Pretoria city centre in 2000.
They told hair-raising stories of Classen forcing them to “eat goggas” (insects), and said he “sacrificed children to Lucifer”. They also spoke about “devils with blazing tails”.
Over months, the court was told about astral travelling, when the children’s spirits “left their bodies” and even about objects moving across a room.
Experts on Satanic rituals tried to explain some of these phenomena to the court.
Defence advocate Deon Hugo said the children could not distinguish fiction from fact.
He argued the children’s evidence about certain events, including 30 child murders and body parts being kept in cupboards, was the “product of their imagination”. One of the siblings even testified that he saw the fictional movie character ET landing his spaceship in Schubart Park.
Hugo said Classen was known to everyone at Schubart Park. He usually begged for money at the Spar shop in the complex. Because he was a tattoo artist, he had an “odd, Gothic look”.
In earlier testimony, Classen said the only reason he had been pinpointed as the culprit was because his face was pierced and his body was covered by tattoos – some of them depicting images of the Devil. He also wore a style of clothing known as “Goth”.
He said even his own children were afraid of him.
But state prosecutor Neeltjie Marriott argued this week that many people could be described as “unsavoury characters” at Schubart Park, but the children were adamant it was Classen who subjected them to the nightmare ordeals.
Classen claimed because they saw him as the “bogeyman”, they accused him of the deeds.
Marriott noted the children had been aggressive and hyperactive when they testified. They had to be reminded time and again to concentrate.
This was typical of abused children, she said, adding that the children had to tell their story several times to many people.
They were also subjected to gruelling cross-examination by the defence – yet they stood by their version that it was Classen.
Hugo told Acting Judge Lettie Malope there could be many different reasons to explain the children’s odd behaviour.
Classen will remain in custody until December 4.