Co-accused: Asked to take blame for Buys death

2014-12-03 14:37
Alex de Koker (File, Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Alex de Koker (File, Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Michael Erasmus, co-accused of killing a 15-year-old boy at a military-style camp, told the Vereeniging Regional Court on Wednesday he was asked to take the blame for the abuse at the camp.

Camp owner Alex de Koker told Erasmus he would give him a new job on a different farm, a car, and money if he took the blame for Raymond Buys's abuse, Erasmus told the court during cross-examination by prosecutor Kobus Jacobs.

Erasmus said De Koker asked him to say that he (De Koker) was never at the camp.

De Koker and Erasmus are charged with murder, child abuse, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, relating to the death of Buys in hospital following his stay at the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp in 2011.

De Koker had testified he was not at the camp 60% of the time.

‘I never used weapons... except the stick’

Erasmus denied this, saying De Koker was at home most of the time and would only leave when he went to fetch his children in town.

He denied evidence by other witnesses alleging that he had attacked Buys with a "piele wapper" (a hollow rubber pipe), a spade, and a sickle.

"I never used any weapons, except the stick," Erasmus said.

He had only ever punched Buys, kicked him, and had once hit him with a broomstick.

"It was unnecessary," Erasmus admitted.

Erasmus argued it was on De Koker's instruction that Buys was abused and that he only ever abused Buys in De Koker's presence.

"If he [Buys] didn't come right we had to 'donner' [smack] him right, that was Alex's words," Erasmus said.

Buys ‘abused almost every day’

Jacobs argued that other witnesses had said Erasmus abused Buys of his own accord when De Koker was not present.

These witnesses had told the court how Buys was abused almost every day during his two-month stay at the camp.

Jacobs said Buys was kept at the camp despite evidence that his left arm and ribs must have been broken at least two weeks before he was admitted to hospital.

Buys allegedly frequently complained of pain and would hold his left arm against his chest.
Erasmus said he never told De Koker that Buys needed medical attention for fear of being attacked by him.

When asked by Jacobs why he thought De Koker would attack him, Erasmus said De Koker had grabbed him by the throat and hit him for not doing his work properly.

Erasmus revealed how De Koker hit his own children with a broom and threw a glass at his daughter.

Jacobs accused Erasmus of trying to blame Buys's abuse on fellow ranger Gerhard Oosthuizen.

"It's the actions of all of you that led to Raymond's death," Jacobs said.

Difficult to sit through case

Erasmus, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and with his hair slicked back, became increasingly agitated during his testimony and shrugged at this statement.

During Erasmus's cross-examination, De Koker frequently shook his head, while Buys's mother Wilna, sitting in the public gallery, did the same.

After court proceedings, Wilna told reporters how difficult it was to sit through the case.

"It is horrible, horrible to hear all the lies that they're telling. It's very, very difficult."

She said it broke her to know her son had tried more than once to run away from the camp.

"It breaks one. How do you put pain in words?" she said, breaking down in tears. She said she wanted justice to be served.

According to the NGO Women and Men Against Child Abuse, Buys was emaciated, dehydrated, had brain damage, skull fractures, a broken arm, and bruises and cigarette burns all over his body, allegedly as a result of De Koker's actions and orders.

Buys was also allegedly forced to eat his own faeces.

The case has been postponed to 19 February. Judgment will be on 27 February.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  child abuse

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