The Survivors: Surviving Sidney Frankel, the ‘paedophile’ billionaire

The Survivors is a podcast series hosted by Joanne Joseph which takes an in-depth look into the survivor stories of the Frankel 8. In the first episode, Joanne sits down with Nicci Diamond Levenstein, who along with her brother, was the first complainant in the Sidney Frankel sexual assault case. Subscribe to the podcast, here.

Who was Sydney Frankel?

He was a billionaire philanthropist, the chair of Frankel Pollak – the largest stockbroker on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and, a close friend of politicians.

But, he was also an alleged paedophile, who sexually assaulted a group of eight men and women when they were young children during the 70s and 80s.

The group of child molestation survivors became known as the Frankel 8.

When the group of survivors approached attorneys for advice, they were devastated to learn that the maximum legal period for prosecution had lapsed, and Frankel could not be prosecuted.

Frankel was facing eight civil lawsuits claiming damages of R5 million per survivor. But, whilst they've never had the opportunity to confront him about the abuse, their case led to the Constitutional Court ruling amendment of the 20-year limitation to Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) which prevented the prosecution of sexual assault offences which occurred over 20 years ago.

Frankel died of cancer at his Johannesburg home, at the age of 68 in April 2017 after denying all allegations against him.

Listen to her shocking account of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of one of South Africa’s wealthiest men.

It was the 70s – it was a time where, as white children, we were being raised mainly by domestic workers. It was a done thing for our parents to let you go away for the weekend with somebody. Today, you would never think of sending your child away with somebody.

Nicci Diamond Levenstein

Sidney Frankel was known to our family. He was a trusted person, he was a person who had a very high standing in the community and he managed to gain the trust of our parents to allow us to go and, he won us over by taking us in fancy cars out of the suburbs, onto a farm.

Nicci Diamond Levenstein

All of us with our friends and it was just these weekends of carefree abandon where you would ride horses... You were just kind of swept up in it and it was happening to everybody with you and, as a seven year old child, you didn't have the language skills to come home and articulate what had happened.

Nicci Diamond Levenstein

As a child, when there is non-violent sexual touch, your body betrays you. So, you are stuck between this place of – in your heart and soul knowing that something's happening that shouldn't be happening... and you come back to your parents who have never educated you in terms of naming the private parts. We

Nicci Diamond Levenstein

We weren't raised in the 70s with knowing (that) we could say no to people. It was very much a time where you were polite and you were told to get up and say hello to Uncle Solly and, go and kiss Aunty Hilda hello... and, go and sit on that person's lap. You didn't dare say no.

Nicci Diamond Levenstein

Subscribe to the Journeys with Joanne Joseph podcast series, here.


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