Johannesburg - Springs has its own Josef Fritzl – the Austrian monster who made international headlines for terrorising and raping his daughter

The man was arrested on Friday after his 11-year-old son managed to escape and run to the neighbours for help.

The story the boy told was harrowing.

His 36-year-old father had kept his five children, aged between two and 16, and their mother, captive in their upmarket house for years, torturing and raping them and refusing to allow them out the house.

The man, a successful businessman, allegedly kept all five children out of school and the neighbours were not aware of their existence.

When the boy got to the neighbours, however, although they were concerned about his wellbeing because he was bruised and bleeding, they returned the boy to the father who took him home, allegedly stuck his head in a green swimming pool, then wrapped him, still alive, in a blanket and placed him in a ceiling, fearing neighbours would alert the police, which they did.

Police searched the house thoroughly after the father told them the child had run away again.

The investigating officer, Warrant Officer Rudi Jansen, told The Star on Wednesday morning that the boy, hidden in the ceiling, had listened as police searched for him and to his father telling them he had run away.

“The father pretended to be concerned about his missing son, but police were suspicious and searched the house but didn’t find him because he was in the ceiling,” he said.

The police, community police forum and Pink Ladies, an organisation which searches for missing people, started an extensive search for the child.

In the meantime, the father took the child to relatives to Warden in the Free State to hide him.

The relatives were told that the eldest sister had beaten him up.

Pressure on the mother eventually led her to confessing to police where the boy was and police went to fetch the boy.

The mother told police the family had been kept captive for years. She said the day the father fetched the child from the neighbours, he beat, kicked and trampled him before sticking his head in the pool.

It is alleged the children were shocked with electric wires and burned with a blow torch, both of which were found in the house. Pornographic DVDs were also found in the house described by police as filthy, but full of expensive furniture.

Despite the expensive furniture, the children were allegedly forced to sleep in one filthy bed.

Police were told the 11-year-old was often made to stand naked outside as punishment.

The investigating officer said the boy had never been to school. His 16-year-old sister had attended school at some stage, but had been taken out.

Police are investigating the possibility that she has been raped.

The other siblings are too young to attend school as they are under the age of five.

The wife said she was also often assaulted by her husband.

The five children were taken to a place of safety and the mother is with family members.

The man was due to appear in the Springs magistrates court on Wednesday morning on charges of attempted murder and child abuse.

* A similar case was Josef Fritzl who kidnapped his daughter and kept her in a basement in Austria for 24 years. She bore seven children and had one miscarriage. It was only after she fell ill that he allowed her out of the basement to seek medical help.

* Another recent case is that of Ariel Castro of Cleveland, Ohio, who kidnapped three women between 2002 and 2004 and kept them in his house, torturing and raping them. One escaped in May 2013, leading to Castro’s arrest. He later committed suicide in prison.

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The Star