Depression and an inability to form trusting relationships have defined me, says one victim.
Stockbroker Sidney Frankel is a paedophile who has left many of his child victims psychologically damaged for life. A year ago a group of middle-aged men and women resolved to confront the man who sexually molested them as young children. In the hope that he could still be criminally prosecuted, they prepared sworn statements in which they relate their shocking childhood experiences at the hands of one of Johannesburg’s wealthiest and best-known men.
|Philanthropist: Sidney Frankel congratulates the young recipient of a scholarship|
However the group of victims who approached a firm of attorneys for advice, was told that, as the incidents took place more then 20 years ago, the maximum period allowed by law, the perpetrator could not be prosecuted. Because of this, they brought their story to Noseweek, as the only publication with the courage to expose their influential molester.
Frankel’s cousin Jio Rosenberg records events that took place between 1978 and 1983 – from when he was seven until he was 12 years old. Frankel was close to his family at the time. And he “looked up to him as he was very wealthy and successful”. He said Frankel’s father, who lived not too far away, owned a Rolls Royce “and I would admire it every day that I happened to passed it parked in the street”.
“Quite often in the evening after work Sidney would call at our house, where he was always welcomed. Perhaps my parents even feared him and his family because of their power and wealth. I would often be taking a bath at the time he visited. He would come into the bathroom and sit down next to the bath. He had a trick that he used to pretend to teach me; he would put his hand into the bath water and squirt water out of his hand; he would then move his hand over my penis and pretend to squirt the water while touching and masturbating me for several minutes.
“This same routine happened over and over again a couple of evenings each week during those five years.
“When my best friend happened to be visiting and having a bath with me, he would do it to both of us.
“Another memory: he would take me and my friend to his private game reserve: we flew there in his private plane… there, I remember he took a plastic Coke bottle, lined the opening with Vaseline and then made us put our penis inside and move in and out of the bottle. He made a point of speaking openly to us about sexual things, having sex, masturbating.
“I would visit his house regularly to play tennis and went often to his horse farm at Kyalami, where he would always make me sit on his lap in the car pretending that I was driving.
“When I was 12 we moved house and I did not see him often after that.
“When I was about 31 he apologised to my sister for the things he had done to her, claiming it was part of his own therapy. When she told me about this, it brought back a flood of memories and feelings of intense anger and betrayal. I then called him and confronted him. He told me he had been through hell and was trying to heal himself and had even tried suicide.
“At the time it almost seemed too much for me to deal with, so I… tried to forget and move on… This was about the time I started suffering from body pain which has gradually got worse over the past 10 years… no-one can diagnose it. I have also felt severely depressed. I have struggled all my life to have healthy intimate relationships.
“Recently, living with my girlfriend who has young children, all those feelings and memories have come back. Being around these innocent children triggers intense feelings about how deeply this man hurt me. It brings back so much sadness, grief and depression... He scarred me in the deepest way possible.
“There are times when my girlfriend is giving me a massage and my eyes are closed, I get so overwhelmed with fear I have to open my eyes to make sure it is her touching me and not Sidney Frankel. … Since last year I have been working intensely with a psychologist who is helping me process this pain, anger and sadness.”
Last year an American psychologist emailed Frankel asking if he would agree to discuss what had happened between him and her client when he was a child, to help him to finally deal with the trauma. The same day the psychologist received a letter from Frankel’s attorney, Billy Gundelfinger, saying: ‘My client has prostate and bladder cancer, has undergone surgery and is currently undergoing radical treatment. My client will be unable to be of any assistance.’
A woman who, from the age of six or seven – around the same time as the previous case – was sexually molested by Frankel, declares in an affidavit: “He would come over to our house at bath time… I recall his hands in the water touching me and soaping my body. At his horse farm in Kyalami over the weekends, without any other adults present, I and a few friends would swim in the pool, after which he would tell us to get dressed but keep our underwear off. He would then get us to lie on our backs on the grass with our legs in the air to do various exercises that entailed opening and closing our legs while he walked around looking down at us.
“Because I rode horses he told me it was important to strengthen my inner thighs. He would put his hand between my thighs with his thumb pushed into my vagina and asked me to squeeze my legs together to strengthen my thighs. He would also put me on his lap, while he bounced his leg up and down.
“As I reached puberty I recall him asking to see my breasts and asking ‘how big are your titties?’ Later he asked me if, in return for buying me a horse, I would have sex with him. He manipulated me, knowing I had a love of horses. Later in life he would press me for inappropriate details of my personal relationships, which made me feel very uncomfortable… he would talk about sex and the use of KY-jelly.
“For many years I have battled with issues about my body, developed eating disorders and felt self-conscious and insecure as a result of the molestation. In my teens I attempted suicide, was hospitalised for severe depression and attended a three-month programme for young adults in distress. To this day I struggle to maintain a normal sexual relationship.”
Noseweek has had sight of another victim’s affidavit, also now middle-aged, who gives a very similar account of how he was sexually molested by Frankel.
Nicole Levenstein, a victim who is now 45, married and resident in Israel, told Noseweek she wished to be identified in this report as she has finally overcome the shame and is ready to publicly confront her childhood molester. She too recalls those swimming sessions at the Kyalami farm: “Afterwards he would put me strategically on his lap, dry me with the towel then remove my costume and rub my vagina with his hands. I can still remember the distinct tone and sound of his voice as he would tell me each time that what was happening was a special secret between him and me.
“He would take me aside and describe what using oils on my vagina would do. He would also tell me things of a sexual nature that made me feel dirty and uncomfortable. Throughout my teenage years and to this day, I have suffered from a distorted body image. My life has been a series of extreme weight gains and losses. Depression and an inability to form trusting relationships defined me,” she states in an affidavit which she prepared in the hope that Frankel would be prosecuted.
“Our hope is that when other victims read this story, they too will come forward. Perhaps more recent cases can form the basis for a successful prosecution.”
One victim who spoke to Noseweek said: “I am aware of one child who was an orphan in the Jewish orphanage – of which Sidney Frankel was a patron – who was not ready to go public. Maybe there are others. Maybe we can approach the Constitutional Court to overturn the 20-year rule on this.”
A ‘highly adaptive’ businessman
The people and entities that accompanied Brett Kebble throughout his criminal career are but few. The short list includes Investec (and its CEO, Stephen Koseff), KPMG, and SocGen (starting point for Peter Gray), although perhaps no surprise to Noseweek readers, the fourth is “respected” stockbroker Sidney Frankel (noses29,15,14 & 8: That dirty slimeball, that’s what his friends call him).
In 1996, Frankel, who some describe as a philanthropist, was in the news after SocGen acquired 51% of Joburg stockbrokers Frankel Pollak, where he was CEO. At the time, the brokerage was being investigated by the JSE for “administrative irregularities” in connection with former directors Greg Blank and Frikkie Kruger.
Frankel Pollak’s legal team was led by ENS’s figurative and literal head Michael Katz, Frankel’s brother-in-law. At the time, Peter Gray, the boss at SocGen Johannesburg, said that charges against Frankel Pollak had been thoroughly assessed before the deal was signed.
Frankel became deputy chairman and CEO of the new company, SocGen-Frankel Pollak. His overbearing father, Leslie, became life president.
In due course, things changed for the worse and in 2002, SocGen Joburg started retrenching staff. Around that time “Bossie” Boshoff, still employed by SocGen in Joburg, received a call from Peter Gray (see Shifty shades of Gray in this issue) – now reduced to the status of “consultant” to SocGen – wanting Boshoff to join him in setting up an international treasury for a “major mining house”.
Later, at Frankel’s office in Joburg, it was revealed that Brett Kebble’s JCI group was providing the financing to secure control of the brokerage Tradek-Balderson. Frankel advised against any dealings with Kebble, who he said was unscrupulous.
“Sidney then made me promise I would never be forced by Brett to contravene exchange control in dealings with his companies”, said Boshoff. Despite that warning, soon afterwards Frankel was facilitating the use of stolen cash to settle Kebble’s debt to SocGen. In due course, on 12 April 2002, Frankel Consulting paid the sum of R28m to SocGen in part-settlement of Kebble’s liability.
Jump to 2006: during a heated exchange T-Sec CEO Leonard Steenkamp admitted that the auditors had picked up a very big – R17m – payment during their audit that was made to Sidney Frankel Consulting. Steenkamp confirmed the amount had been paid into an overseas bank account – the sort of thing Frankel had warned his staff not to do for Kebble.
In a sworn statement of 18 October 2006, Frankel stated that Frankel Consulting Financial Services, of which he was the sole member, had acted for and on behalf of the JCI group “for several years” and had represented JCI “in a variety of transactions”.
Like Investec, KPMG and Gray, Frankel earned many millions from Kebble – before and after his death. In a circular to shareholders dated 30 October 2006, in which JCI announced the sale of its remaining shares in Western Areas to Gold Fields, Frankel Consulting was listed as having been paid R2.5m for “fees”.
Even after the greatest fraud the country had seen became public knowledge, Frankel persisted: in 2007, he sued JCI and Randgold for R3.3m in fees still owing from the disposal of Western Areas shares to Gold Fields.
As one fellow stockbroker has noted, Sidney Frankel is “highly adaptive” in business and politics. In one era, his offices had pictures of FW de Klerk and in another, Frankel was photographed posing with Nelson Mandela.
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