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'Family made kids do porn'

By The Times | 2010-12-03 07:04:08.0

Eight members of single family are arrested as alleged child-porn ring is smashed in Pretoria

Cops swooped down on a grandfather aged 58, grandmother, 57, their two sons from previous relationships, aged 34 and 36, the grandfather's brother, 61, and his wife, 42, as well as their mentally disabled son, 28, The Times reports.

The 26-year-old wife of one of the sons was also arrested.

Toddlers are alleged to have been raped by their relatives and groomed to have sex with each other - all of it filmed to feed the demand for child porn.

Some details of the alleged abuse are too graphic to publish.

Warrant Officer Tonia Louwrens, the lead detective on the case, said: "I've never seen something this big before - not the number of adults and children involved. I felt angry. It is sick."

During raids on four properties by 22 police officers, the eight adults watched while the police seized15 cellphones, several computers, computer hard drives, laptops, photo albums, pornographic DVDs, video tapes, four firearms, a personal diary, memory sticks, playing cards, a mattress, and a piece of carpet that police believe is stained with semen.

Some of those arrested wept. Others were furious and swore at the police and social workers. Some showed no emotion as officers went through their homes with a fine-toothed comb.

Four children - three boys and a girl, aged between 4 years and 15 years - were removed from three of the homes and taken to places of safety for counselling and medical examinations.

Police believe the teenage girl was sexually abused on film by her father and mentally disabled brother.

The police suspected the existence of a child porn ring when social workers found that two children - a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl - who had been placed in the foster care of the grandparents, were "not doing well at school", Louwrens said.

The foster daughter, whose birthday is today, was removed from the home by social workers in March. Her foster brother was taken in October.

"The children were not doing well at school and had bad report cards," said Louwrens. "Social workers suspected negligence and sexual abuse so the children were removed."

How the couple got permission to foster the children is not known, but Louwrens said the couple had "appeared suitable" to social workers.

Louwrens and her partner, Warrant Officer Karel Geldenhuys, obtained statements from the two foster children, who were placed in different places of safety. On the strength of their evidence, and assessments by a psychologist, search and seizure warrants were granted by the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court for yesterday's raids.

A crime intelligence officer involved in the investigation, who cannot be named, revealed that the foster children's statements, taken separately, corroborated each other.

"There is no way children of such a young age can fabricate such explicit details," she said.

The main property on which the grandfather, grandmother, son and family live resembles the set of a horror film. Police and social workers gasped and held their breath as an overpowering stench of dog, cat, pig and human excrement emanated from the rooms.

The houses, all on smallholdings in the area, were falling apart. Walls were broken and windows were held together by Sellotape.

A third house, belonging to the grandfather's brother and his wife, was equally filthy.

The eight adults are being detained in cells at the Pretoria North police station and are to appear in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Louwrens said the adults will face charges of rape and indecent assault dating back to before 2007, sexual grooming of children, and possession, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.

She said she will ask the court not to allow the parents access to the children, if they are granted bail, until the case is concluded.

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