Porn kids’ lives of horror

More ar­rests ex­pected

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - HANTI OTTO

GAUT­ENG po­lice ex­pect to make more ar­rests in South Africa’s biggest child pornog­ra­phy ring in­volv­ing an ex­tended fam­ily of grand­par­ents, par­ents and chil­dren.

Hail­ing the bust of the ring in the north of Pre­to­ria as a ma­jor break­through, po­lice yes­ter­day said they be­lieved the ring may be part of a far big­ger syn­di­cate op­er­at­ing be­yond Gaut­eng.

Of­fi­cers ex­pect more vic­tims to come for­ward as foren­sic de­tec­tives study reams of con­fis­cated ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing porno­graphic DVDs – with some al­legedly por­tray­ing the chil­dren in sex­ual acts with adults – as well as videos, firearms, com­put­ers and dig­i­tal cam­eras.

“The ar­rest of these sus­pects is a ma­jor break­through that may pre­vent the dis­tri­bu­tion of child pornog­ra­phy. In­ves­ti­ga­tions are still con­tin­u­ing to es­tab­lish how and to where the porno­graphic ma­te­ri­als were dis­trib­uted,” said pro­vin­cial po­lice spokesman Lieu­tenant Colonel Lun­gelo Dlamini.

A month-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion cul­mi­nated on Thurs­day when po­lice swooped on a Ham­man­skraal small­hold­ing north of Pre­to­ria, ar­rest­ing eight mem­bers of the same fam­ily and re­mov­ing four chil­dren be­tween the ages of four and 15 and tak­ing them to a safe­house.

Po­lice said they be­lieved the tod­dlers were raped by their relatives and groomed to have sex with each other on film.

Those ar­rested in­clude a grand­fa­ther, 58, grand­mother, 57, their two sons, 34 and 36, from pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ships, the grand­fa­ther’s brother, 61, and his wife, 42, their men­tally dis­abled son, 28, as well as the 26-year-old wife of one of the sons.

The drama con­tin­ued yes­ter­day when a fe­male rel­a­tive, but who is not a sus­pect, ar­rived at the safe­house and al­legedly at­tempted to in­tim­i­date the fos­ter par­ents.

Po­lice re­main puz­zled as to how she found out where the chil­dren had been taken.

Surika van Schalk­wyk, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager of Sol­i­dar­ity Help­ing Hand, who was at Thurs­day’s raid, de­scribed her re­vul­sion at what she found.

“The whole set up was ex­tremely trau­matic. All the fam­i­lies are re­lated to each other. And the fact that they’re do­ing this to one an­other, to their own chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, it’s very up­set­ting.

“I think these chil­dren were lit­er­ally sex­u­ally abused and raped for years on end.”

She said the old­est boy, aged nine, was “very ag­gres­sive”.

“When he was re­moved from his par­ents that morn­ing, he screamed at so­cial work­ers: “I will kill my­self if you take me away. I will jump out of the car and won’t care if you drive over me.”

Sev­eral times he tried to run away into the bushes sur­round­ing the di­lap­i­dated houses be­fore he even­tu­ally sat still in a car.

“My heart broke as I sat with the chil­dren. First it was just with the three boys, aged nine, eight and four. Later the 13-year-old girl was brought from the neigh­bour­ing small­hold­ing.

“The nine-year-old later sat in the car, rock­ing his body with eyes closed. He whis­pered a prayer, hold­ing his hands to­gether in front of his face.

“The blond eight-year-old did not say a word. He just cried softly. The four-year-old boy was dressed only in shorts.” It is be­lieved the horror the chil­dren had en­dured was ex­posed when two chil­dren, a boy aged six, and a girl aged eight, were re­moved from the fos­ter care of the grand­par­ents in June.

Ap­par­ently it was then es­tab­lished that the two fos­ter chil­dren might have been sex­u­ally mo­lested.

By Thurs­day po­lice had enough ev­i­dence to pounce.

Hard­ened of­fi­cers de­scribed what they found as among the worst ex­pe­ri­ences of their ca­reers.

As po­lice en­tered the main house, they found the grand­par­ents in bed with two of the boys.

Van Schalk­wyk said the chil­dren were all be­ing kept at the same shel­ter and Help­ing Hand would pay for their as­sess­ment, coun­selling and, if needed, med­i­cal treat­ment.

The sus­pects will ap­pear in court on Mon­day on charges rang­ing from deal­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing child pornog­ra­phy to sev­eral of sex­ual as­sault.

‘The fact that they did this to their own chil­dren is very up­set­ting’

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