Buys co-accused too scared to report abuse

2014-12-02 13:15
Alex de Koker, murder accused owner of a military-style camp, appears at the Vereeniging Regional Court. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Alex de Koker, murder accused owner of a military-style camp, appears at the Vereeniging Regional Court. (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 Tuesday he was too scared to tell anyone about the abuse there.

"I hit him [Raymond Buys] on instruction, but I was scared to tell anybody what was going on," he said.

"I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to pick up problems."

Erasmus said he was the only one at the camp allowed to have a phone and his co-accused, the camp's owner Alex de Koker, would have known if he had called for help and he would have been in trouble as a result.

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.

Under cross-examination by De Koker's lawyer, Phillip Venter, Erasmus detailed how Buys was abused and tortured by himself, De Koker, and other rangers at the camp.

"If somebody kept making mistakes, the rangers would hit them, that's how it was addressed," he said.

Venter accused Erasmus of trying to blame De Koker for things he had done to Buys. Erasmus denied this, saying everything he did to Buys was done on De Koker's instruction.

Erasmus told how fellow ranger Gerhard Oosthuizen would often pick on Buys, even after De Koker had told them to stop hitting the boy, about three days before he died in hospital.

The first and only time Erasmus punched Oosthuizen was after he saw Oosthuizen kick Buys in his face, near his mouth.

Oosthuizen would hold Buys's arm and leg and spin him around to gain momentum before letting him go.

Buys unconscious

The day Buys was taken to hospital unconscious, Erasmus found Oosthuizen standing over the boy. Oosthuizen told Erasmus Buys had fallen over a tent pole.

During proceedings, De Koker often stared directly at Erasmus for long periods of time. During the tea break, De Koker kissed, hugged and spoke to his wife. Erasmus sat with his family.

On Monday Erasmus told the court Buys was stripped, tied to a chair, had water thrown at him, and was shocked with a Taser gun after he ran away from the camp.

Erasmus recalled a day when Buys was tied to a flagpole between 16:00 and 17:00. He was told the 15-year-old had tried to run away for a second time.

He said De Koker asked him to get a chair, chains, a bucket, a pillowcase, and a taser, and no one should know what they were doing.

The court heard Buys was chained to his bed every night on De Koker's instructions because he wanted to run away, Erasmus told the court.

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 allegedly forced to eat his own faeces.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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