As Child Protection week drew to a close this week police have implored parents to know where their children are at all times.
This follows the arrests of two men for allegedly sexually grooming and raping minors from Overcome Heights earlier this month.
The men accused of rape and grooming were released on bail last week with strict bail conditions.
Captain Anneline de Beer, spokesperson for Muizenberg police confirmed the arrests and appearance of the two men who allegedly paid children have sex with them.
One of the men is a Muizenberg resident and another is a car guard at Muizenberg beachfront who allegedly engaged in sexual acts in the toilets and bungalows on the beachfront.
The men have appeared in the Muizenberg Magistrate’s court over the past three weeks for bail hearings. When one of the men appeared on Tuesday May 25, parents of some of the victims and angry community leaders protested in front of the court with placards, chanting “enough is enough” and “no bail for child rapists”.
The Muizenberg man had allegedly paid to have sex with young boys. Seven cases had been opened thus far but on the stand investigating officer Warrant Officer Richard Jacobs said the investigation was still ongoing as more potential victims had been identified, but they had yet to come forward to make statements. The man is out on R10 000 bail.
The car guard appeared in connection with four cases of alleged sexual grooming of underage girls and was released on R1000 bail.
Both men’s victims were between the ages of 12 and 14, said Captain de Beer.
Parents of the children were angry that the men were released on bail and questioned the justice system.
The mother of one of the first victims, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the children, found out about the sexual grooming when her son and his friends had an argument about money.
“They were arguing about a R500 and how they were going to split it,” she said. “I heard the argument and asked them about it and where they got the money and eventually they told me everything.”
The woman said her son and his group of friends often walked to Muizenberg beach to swim and play together. She said they were introduced to the man who allegedly offered them between R50 to R100 to engage in various sexual acts at the beachfront.
“I am angry and disgusted that grown men would do this to children. They took advantage of them and bribed them with money. We are not fortunate and don’t have money so it was very suspicious when I saw my son and his friends had so much money.”
The mother of one of the underage girls said her daughter and friends also often went to Muizenberg to swim after which they would ask for small change to buy something to eat. “It was then that this man offered them money. This had been happening for months. I am angry and upset that this happened to our children,” she said.
The parents were distraught when bail was granted last week.
Overcome Heights community worker Karen Mentoor is worried about the potential impact the men being out on bail could have on young victims.
“They should have stayed in prison because there are more children who still have to come forward to make statements. Our fear is that they influence those children and also cause a threat to the children who made statements,” she said.
Ms Mentoor said the children were vulnerable.
“We are angry because they preyed on these children who didn’t have food at home and whose parents couldn’t afford much and they will do the same again. Now those men are out on bail, the system has failed us.”
She advised parents to keep an eye on their children and to know where they are at all times. She also encouraged people to pay attention to what’s happening – especially at the beaches.
Captain de Beer concurred. “Guardians must know where their children are and what they’re doing at all times. Many of the parents or guardians don’t know that their children go to the beach because they are at work – some parents are just not interested. We encourage people to pay attention and report when they see anything suspicious.”
The men are due back in court in July.