- The Hervormde Church says the crèche at the heart of toddler rape allegations can stay on its property for another year – but only if owner Annet Pistorius is banned from the premises.
- The owner has told News24 that she will step aside.
- Her and husband Marius are not allowed to have any contact with the children either.
- The church will now monitor developments, it says.
The Hervormde Church has given crèche owner Annet Pistorius the boot. Her play school can stay for 12 more months, the church decided Saturday, but she must leave immediately.
Annet, 63, confirmed on Sunday morning that she had accepted the church's demand that she and her husband, Marius Pistorius, "do not enter the premises during school hours or have interaction with any of the children within the context of the school".
Marius, 69, allegedly removed at least seven girls and boys as young as two from the play school to perform sexual acts on them.
The local Hervormde church, which has been Babbel & Krabbel's landlord since 1995, decided on Saturday to give Annet an ultimatum. It will evict her crèche from the church's property, unless she "immediately withdraws from the operational activities and supervision at the school, and transfer the functions and responsibilities to another person or persons who have not been implicated in any of the alleged cases of sexual abuse".
"The primary consideration in the decision on the cancellation or not of the lease with Ms Pistorius, owner of Babbel & Krabbel play school, is firstly, the safety and welfare of the children enrolled at the play school and secondly, the stability of their lives. The children's safety and welfare weigh heavier than the stability of their lives," said Johann Smith, the scribe of the Hervormde church's Cape Town parish, which includes the Melkbosstrand congregation.
The church's hard stance appears to have had the desired effect.
When asked on Sunday morning whether she accepted the church's demands, Annet told News24: "Yup."
Asked whether she would be at the school on Monday morning, she said: "The children and parents of the school are incredibly important to me. What you are doing to the innocent staff is unthinkable. I hope that if I distance myself, they can teach in peace, without cars that spy and hang around there."
As before, she maintained her husband's innocence.
"These allegations are untrue," she said on Sunday.
"You've got it wrong on this one - spectacularly wrong. If you know me, you would know I wouldn't protect anyone who perpetrates such deeds."
Calls to Marius have remained unanswered.
Enter the Hervormers
After the Hervormde church's meeting in the Cape on Saturday, Smith said their decisions "do not imply a conviction or exoneration of Mr Pistorius in relation to the alleged serious misdeeds of a sexual nature that he allegedly would have perpetrated against children of Babbel & Krabbel play school".
The church council will consult with a social worker from the Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue-Vereniging, which is a designated child protection organisation operating in Melkbosstrand.
"The ideal is that the school gets a new owner as quickly as possible and be placed under new management," the scribe said.
He added: "Activists are requested not to act in such a way that they endanger the safety of children at the school, traumatise them or intimidate their parents."