Court hears of Parktown Boys assistant coach's difficult upbringing

2018-11-27 16:21
The former Parktown Boys High School water polo coach hides his face after leaving the high court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. (Gallo)

The former Parktown Boys High School water polo coach hides his face after leaving the high court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. (Gallo)

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Former Parktown Boys' High School assistant water polo coach Collan Rex, who was found guilty of sexual assault and assault, was a victim of sexual assault himself, the South Gauteng High Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court, has heard.

The court also heard details of Rex's difficult upbringing.

The details transpired on Tuesday during Rex's sentencing proceedings. He initially faced 327 charges. However, he pleaded guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault and 12 counts of common assault.

READ: Parktown boys coach convicted of sexual assault sentencing procedures delayed

On Tuesday, probation officer Xoliswa Budaza, of the Gauteng social development department, said Rex had never been raped, but he has been sexually assaulted by fellow pupils when he attended Parktown Boys' High.

In addition, senior pupils verbally, emotionally and physically abused him during a school camp when he was in Grade 8. He said it seemed to be part of an initiation.

Rex also told her that he was exposed to bullying at the school, where there was wrestling and activities that involved touching of genitals "with the aim of proving that one was not was not fearful of the other".

She said Rex said games were played where a pupil would place his hands on another boy's genitals and ask: "Are you a man or mouse?".

Struggled

Testifying about his upbringing, Budaza said Rex was born out of wedlock and his biological father and mother separated when he was four. He then lived with his mother and stepfather. 

Budaza said Rex told her that he had a positive relationship with his stepfather up until the age of 12, until he lost his job, started consuming alcohol and abused his mother.

He also said his family struggled financially and that they were dependent on the mother's income. 

Direct imprisonment

She said direct imprisonment was found to be a suitable sentence, considering the seriousness of the offences. 

"Furthermore, the court should consider the accused's age in that he is still a young man who can potentially be rehabilitated [and prepared] to be an individual who upholds the law," Budaza added.

The court also heard evidence of a victim impact report in which probation officer Busisiwe Mahlangu recorded that victims threatened to take their lives after the incident. 

Some of the victims suffered severe stress which impacted on their academic progress, Mahlangu revealed.

Nightmares

Christian Bossert, a teacher and boarding house director at Parktown, detailed the impact of the case on pupils.

He said some of the pupils at the hostel had nightmares and could not sleep.

Bossert indicated that some of the boys refused to attend school and there were cases where pupils, who were directly affected, started abusing substances.

"Also the boys said to me: 'Why did we speak out? Because we are getting more harassed now," he said.

The courtroom was packed to capacity with victims' parents, representatives from the school and Rex’s family members.

Sentencing proceedings will continue on Wednesday.

Read more on:    parktown boys’ high school  |  johannesburg  |  sexual abuse
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