- The sleepy town of Melkbosstrand awoke to a loud demonstration on Beach Road against child predators.
- This comes after a News24 investigation named local businessman Marius Pistorius as a suspected paedophile.
- This has been the first week without his wife, Annet Pistorius, at the helm of Babbel & Krabbel.
"We support the victims" – these were the words depicted on one of the dozens of posters dotting the Melkbosstrand beachfront on Saturday morning, where locals gathered in support of abuse victims, incidentally a few roads away from the home of an alleged paedophile.
"Any victim who has not come forward, please do. Let us support you," protest organiser Gali Laughton urged on a loudhailer on Beach Road, addressing a crowd who had gathered in the sleepy town as motorists hooted in support and bikers revved their engines while driving by.
Armed with posters reading, "People who molest kids should be in jail" and "You are no longer alone", residents arrived in their numbers in support of the demonstration, encouraging other abuse victims to come forward and tell their stories.
Following a three-month investigation, News24 two weeks ago published harrowing allegations of the abduction and sexual abuse of seven toddlers, aged between two and five.
Suspected paedophile Marius Pistorius, 69, is the husband of the creche principal, Annet Pistorius, who founded Babbel & Krabbel in 1992.
Both have strenuously denied the allegations.
The parents of seven alleged victims laid charges between 2011 and 2019. There were no prosecutions because the toddlers were considered unreliable witnesses.
Among the protesters on Saturday were some of the parents of the alleged victims who never got justice.
One mother wept as she stood in the crowd, overwhelmed by the number of people who came to "stand with [them]".
"This…. it means so much," she said, wiping away her tears.
This has been the first week without Annet at the helm of Babbel & Krabbel, the playschool she founded 30 years ago.
The school's landlord, the Hervormde Church, barred both her and her husband from the facility.
The move came 11 years after the first allegations were made.
Initially saying the claims were "contaminated by gossip, envy and jealousy between different role-players in the community of Melkbosstrand" and that it relied on the "integrity of the prosecutor and the legal system", less than a week after the publication of the investigation, the church did an about-turn.
Last Saturday, Annet was issued an ultimatum: eviction from the church property or the appointment of another person not implicated in the allegations to run Babbel & Krabbel.
Anri Brits has since been appointed principal.
She, in a communique to parents, expressed her appreciation for their "support during the past few weeks", availing herself to those with questions or in need of "any form of support".
According to her message, daily activities and school functionality continue as normal, although the school concert has been postponed "after everyone has just recently gone through a traumatic time".
Meanwhile, an online petition, demanding "answers" for the children of Melkbosstrand, has garnered over 2 000 signatures.
"We want the government to further investigate the alleged sexual assaults of minors in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town. We want to know why the NPA has failed to prosecute, and why these assaults have been brushed under the rug for over a decade," the petition, compiled by Laughton, reads.
By midday on Saturday, 2 135 people had signed in support, while about 100 signatures were collected at the demonstration.
We want to hear your views on the news. Subscribe to News24 to be part of the conversation in the comments section of this article.