Crib notes: Who is Cezanne Visser?

Cezanne Visser, as seen during the last stages of her court case where she dramatically changed her image. (Gallo)

Cezanne Visser, as seen during the last stages of her court case where she dramatically changed her image. (Gallo)

Cezanne Visser … remind me what that was all about again?
Visser was the woman sent to jail in 2010 for molesting children together with her former lover Dirk Prinsloo. He skipped the country and she got sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released on parole on Monday after serving just over three years in jail. A lot of people are upset about this.

Why should we care so much about this case? What about all the other sex offenders out there?
Good point, but Visser's case drew an inordinate amount of attention for over a decade thanks to the salacious details of Prinsloo and Visser's sex lives revealed in court and Visser's image – which earned her the title "Advocate Barbie" in the media.

Advocate Barbie? You've got to be kidding me.
Cezanne Visser first became known as Advocate Barbie circa 2002 before the scandal broke. It was after an Idols audition garnered her widespread media attention thanks to her blonde hair, large fake breasts and law degree. But not thanks to her singing talent, it would seem, which by her own later admission was non-existent. But before the scandal, she seemed to take ownership of the title, telling a journalist: "I see Barbie as physical perfection. If I am close to perfection then that is good." This was while she was enthralled by Prinsloo, as she would later claim in her court defence, and did ridiculous things to please him.

Ridiculous things such as getting enormous fake breasts?
At Prinsloo's behest she had her breasts enlarged several times till they were a size EE and her surgeon refused further enlargements. She was apparently a virgin when she first met Prinsloo at age 24, who drew her into sexual acts involving children that later led to her imprisonment in 2010. Salacious details of their sex life emerged in the long trial, which involved human excrement, bondage and illegal pornography including children.

Yup. The sensational aspect of their relationship was the least of it. The couple were found to have defrauded a children's home into letting young teenagers and pre-teens spend time with them. These and other minors were "indecently assaulted", according to court charges. One girl was drugged and woke up without her underwear on, while the couple was also thought to have made minors watch them have sex, and created pornography with the children. 

Why on earth is this woman being allowed out of jail? And when will the man face justice?
Officials say she is fully rehabilitated. Prinsloo, former chair of the independent bar council, skipped the country and avoided charges during the trial, only to be imprisoned in Belarus for other offences. He will be extradited to South Africa after his 13-year prison sentence there.

This sounds like a thoroughly nasty business.
It was. One of the couple's victims from a children's home went on to become a troubled young woman and heroine addict, who eventually took her own life in March 2010. But worse still are the thousands of cases such as it that don't involve middle-class buxom blonde women and get little attention. 

What next for Advocate Barbie though?
The correctional services department says Visser's parole conditions will be strict and she is expected to remain under house arrest. She will also not be allowed to visit places of safety for children or make contact with any of her victims. Upon Visser's release last week, her mother Susan Lemmer hinted at a move towards religion. "Cezanne has experienced Christian forgiveness, even though she has not yet had the opportunity to ask her victims for forgiveness."

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.  Read more from Verashni Pillay

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