Porn kids’ lives of horror
More arrests expected
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’