The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has launched a full-scale investigation after convicted child rapist and model agency boss Dawie de Villiers was found in possession of a cellphone while serving a life sentence in Johannesburg Central Prison.
News24 can exclusively reveal that correctional services officers searched De Villiers’ prison cell on Thursday morning and found a cellphone, which he allegedly used while behind bars.
The discovery was made after a News24 probe into allegations that social media accounts linked to De Villiers were active since he started serving his sentence in July 2019.
De Villiers was sentenced to life in prison for raping and sexually assaulting several teenage girls and young women. Among his rape victims was a girl who was 15 years old at the time.
He faced more than 20 counts, including rape, sexual assault, indecent assault, sexual grooming as well as the possession and accessing of child pornography. It was found he committed the crimes during a five-year period from 2008 to 2013.
De Villiers was found guilty of the crimes in February 2017.
Correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo announced the discovery of the cellphone and said De Villiers would be transferred to the maximum security division at Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.
“The inmate is being degraded following a searching exercise which located a mobile phone in his possession. This is disturbing as mobile phones are registered as contraband and the inmate in question is serving a sentence for atrocious offences,” Nxumalo told News24.
“The mobile phone will be sent for analysis as part of the investigation as the inmate’s exposure to the outside world can pose a high risk due to his profile.
“Correctional services takes this matter seriously as it undermines the mandate of the corrections which entails safe and secure custody of inmates under humane conditions. A full-scale investigation has been initiated and those found to have aided the inmate to access the mobile phone and other forms of contraband will be spared no mercy.”
Nxumalo added that De Villiers would be criminally charged.
When asked if the convicted rapist could face further charges if the examination of his phone showed he was still trying to lure teenage girls and young women, Nxumalo said the “analysis will tell us the type of activities he engaged in using that mobile phone. Such will be additional charges.”
Social media probed
During his trial it was revealed that De Villiers’ modus operandi was to use Facebook to lure aspiring models by promising them lucrative contracts in the modelling industry or setting up fake photo shoots, as DispatchLive reported.
He used the same strategy to defraud people who paid money to join modelling agencies.
News24 recently received information that De Villiers was in possession of a cellphone in prison and was allegedly continuing to post information to social media pages linked to him or the modelling agencies he operated to create the impression he was a legitimate businessman.
The Department of Correctional Services raid has confirmed he was in possession of a cellphone, but the department said it was not yet clear what he used it for.
An analysis of pages linked to De Villiers and his businesses has revealed that:
· A personal Facebook page linked to De Villiers and using his photos has been active since his incarceration.
· He is still the sole director of two modelling agencies, one of which he used as a front in the crimes of which he was found guilty.
· These agencies – MSA Model Management and Agency and Phoenix Model Management and Agency – have also been active on Facebook since De Villiers’ imprisonment.
While it’s possible that De Villiers may have passed control of the social media pages onto second parties, it’s unclear why these parties have continued to use his Facebook pages even after he was sentenced for crimes to which one of the agencies was linked.
While his personal page purports to be run by a person simply named Roxanne, who claims to be the new owner of MSA, according to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) De Villiers is still the sole director of MSA and Phoenix Models.
The Facebook pages of MSA and Phoenix Models appear to be run jointly, with the same posts, containing the same captions and website links being published. The website links also take you to a MSA page where you can submit an application to become a model for the agencies. There are costs involved.
Despite numerous attempts to contact people who purport to be directors of the agencies, News24 has not received any comment.