By Christina GallagherGerhardus Van Rooyen, 52, often told guests at his Capital Park, Pretoria home about his sexual exploits with young women and girls, as young as 5.
Before being linked to the six girls' disappearances, Van Rooyen was convicted of several offences, including molestation.
In 1979 he was jailed for sexually molesting two girls. He served three years of a four-year sentence.
The making of a child molester
South Africa / 7 April 2007, 4:04pm /
Van Rooyen, a father of six children and 11 grandchildren, operated a construction business with his brothers from his home. Authorities later said the business appeared to be in trouble, but Van Rooyen was always seen with lots of cash.
However, domestic workers and a handyman at the house claimed he often did not pay them. One domestic worker said Van Rooyen threatened to withhold her pay unless she brought him "young girls from the township".
Neighbours claimed Van Rooyen lived in a virtual fortress.
"Nobody could get in there. They unlocked the security gate for visitors and locked it as soon as you were inside," one neighbour said.
Girls in the area said Van Rooyen "leered, whistled at them, and told them they were sexy".
Van Rooyen began dating Francina Johanna (Joey) Hermina Haarhoff, 48, in 1988. She was light-brown haired and fair-skinned - a friend described her as "very attractive", and many thought it odd for her to choose a short, balding, pot-bellied, older man.
Haarhoff's sons said after she began dating Van Rooyen her personality changed drastically. "I think he bewitched her," an unidentified son said.
The couple liked to spend weekends away in Warmbaths and at a resort in Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal.
Haarhoff was thought to be the bait to lure girls into the couple's lair. Children's homes in the area said at the time she often phoned requesting to take girls home for the holidays and weekends.
It was later claimed Haarhoff abducted all the girls and wore a blonde wig to disguise herself.
In January 1990, a blonde woman abducted Joan Booysen, 16, from Church Square in Pretoria. Booysen later escaped despite being sexually assaulted, drugged, tied up and placed in a bedroom cupboard. It was this escape of the only girl known to have made it out alive of what the media dubbed the "House of Horrors" that eventually led to the couple's downfall.
Van Rooyen and Haarhoff committed suicide while police pursued them days after Booysen escaped. Before they died, they spent a night at the Umdloti resort.
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