EXCLUSIVE | My Only Story Episode 3: Unmasking 'Jimmy' - this is the man who raped me 20 years ago

2019-11-21 07:35
Willem Breytenbach. (Instagram)

Willem Breytenbach. (Instagram)

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Deon Wiggett, in a series of podcasts co-published by News24, recounts a chilling story of how he and other boys were allegedly sexually molested more than 20 years ago by a man who used to be a teacher at a prestigious school and later became a senior corporate executive.

It is a cold Sunday night in July this year. Deon Wiggett, an advertising copywriter from Johannesburg, is cooking a stew. Then he receives a message that shakes him to his core… 

Wiggett has been investigating a man he refers to as "Jimmy", a man who allegedly raped him in the mouth more than 20 years ago. In a series of podcasts, he revealed how there were other young boys and men who were also allegedly Jimmy's victims. 

His investigation has led him to Grey College in Bloemfontein, where Jimmy taught in 1989 and 1990.

"1990 will turn out to be one of the most crucial of Jimmy's life, and also, one of mine," Wiggett says.

"Lately, things haven't been going his way. In July 2019, Jimmy receives a message from his friend Ned*. It says that someone called Deon Wiggett has been asking him questions and he thinks maybe it's about Jimmy. 

"If Jimmy was afraid on that winter's morning, he had good reason. If he knew the things I was finding out about his career at Grey College, he wouldn't be pleased at all - he would be most concerned about my new friend, Ben*." 

Ben is a former Grey College pupil whom Wiggett meets at a restaurant. Ben is the man whom Wiggett refers to at the end of Episode 2 of My Only Story, when he receives a call that simply states: "I can tell you everything…" 

"He wasn't kidding," Wiggett remarks.

In bed with a 15-year-old

Ben recalls how he walked into Jimmy's room in a building that housed teachers on the Grey College grounds, where he found Jimmy in bed with a 15-year-old classmate. 

Back home, Wiggett sets about to find the boy Ben was talking about. He also tries to find out more about what happened in the five years since Jimmy left Grey, to teach at a much smaller school in the countryside. This proves difficult, and Wiggett sets his sights on the period after Jimmy left teaching - "a new Jimmy for the 21st century". 

MY ONLY STORY | A podcast series and live investigation into a sexual predator

Starting with Jimmy's "enemies", Wiggett's enquiries bring him closer to Jimmy "and his loyal lieutenants". 

"And so the risk increases. Right now, I still have the element of surprise, I think. He doesn't know that I know… he doesn't know that I'm setting a trap. He doesn't know his beach days are over - but only if my plan works and I can stop him…" 

During a Skype conversation with an informant in Asia, Wiggett is informed about Ned who used to work for Jimmy until they had a fallout. 

"You really must talk to Ned," the man urges. 

Wiggett reaches out to Ned and tries to convince him to talk about Jimmy whom he refers to only by his initials. Ned responds with the initials, followed by a question mark. "He doesn't get who I'm talking about." 

Wiggett decides to leave it there for the time being. "Maybe if I give him a bit of time, he'll get there," he remarks. "And he did get there…"

'He wants to connect'

On that freezing Sunday evening, Wiggett receives a LinkedIn notification. It's from Jimmy. He wants to connect…

"Jimmy's invitation to connect on LinkedIn was our first contact for 22 years."

Wiggett next gets a message from Jimmy: "Deon. My friend Ned says you're looking for me."

* * *

"As you know, Jimmy is not his real name, because of defamation. That's what [News24's] lawyers say. I don't want to defame Jimmy accidentally, so I need to be extremely careful about what the law says," Wiggett remarks.  

Media lawyer Charl du Plessis of Willem de Klerk Attorneys says if allegations against someone harm their reputation, it would be defamatory. 

"Can you defame someone that everyone agrees is a horrible person?" Wiggett wants to know. 

"You can be a totally rotten person with a horrible reputation, but your reputation is still an inherent part of your right to dignity," Du Plessis replies. "An allegation of criminality is always defamatory. It is up to you to provide the justification for the publication of that defamatory material."   

"What I need to prove is that I have the right to defame the real Jimmy in the public interest," Wiggett says. 

"If something is true and in the public interest it's not wrong to publish the defamatory material," says Du Plessis.

"If this podcast goes to court, if Jimmy gets an interdict against me, News24's lawyers will need to provide enough evidence to convince a judge that my defamation is in the public interest."

"It's a high-stakes game," Du Plessis warns Wiggett. 

* * *

Back in the restaurant, Ben reveals that Jimmy allegedly used a trick to get him alone one afternoon in 1990. "It's the same trick that Brandon* told me about…"

In Episode 2 of My Only Story, Wiggett speaks to Brandon who reveals that Jimmy allegedly tricked him into taking off his shorts. He abruptly ends the conversation and never contacts Wiggett again. 

"Ben is in Jimmy's room. His leg is sore and he is no match for Jimmy's cunning. On that Saturday afternoon, Jimmy did what Jimmy does - got his hands on the penis of teenage Ben who was 15. 

This is the man known as 'Jimmy' 

"Actually, legally, I can be a bit more precise than that. On that Saturday afternoon, in a house on a broccoli-green circle at Grey College, Ben's teenage penis was the successful target of a man called Willem Breytenbach - the man you have got to know as 'Jimmy'…" 

 * * * 

"It is time I introduced you to Willem Breytenbach who is one of the men this story is about," Wiggett says. 

He proceeds to reveal that Breytenbach is 55 years old, lives in Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town. He was a teacher at Grey College in Bloemfontein in 1989 and 1990 who was largely liked "but not by his chosen few".

Since the publication of Episode 1 of My Only Story on November 7, Breytenbach has closed all his social media accounts. 

News24 could not locate Jimmy at his office or residence last week. His company, which until Tuesday was seemingly still operational, has also disabled its website, disconnected its phones and its offices were empty when News24 visited the premises on Wednesday last week.

READ | Former Grey College teacher's whereabouts unknown following sex assault allegations in podcast

According to Rapport, Breytenbach arrived at the offices of Lightspeed Digital Media in Cape Town on November 11 and announced that the business was closing owing to "financial reasons". Almost 30 people were retrenched.

Breytenbach's whereabouts are currently unknown.

* * * 

Wiggett again talks about the first contact he had from Breytenbach on that winter's evening. Two weeks later, on August 5 - Breytenbach's 55th birthday - Wiggett responds to his message: "Congratulations on your 55th … Willie." 

Willie was Breytenbach's childhood name - a name he hasn't been called in 37 years. 

Wiggett immediately regrets sending the message. He paces up and down, contemplating whether he had been "disrespectful". 

"Then I stop myself. Disrespectful of what? Why should I treat him with any respect? I know what he is now… and so do you. He rapes teenage boys and young men, and my idea of disrespect is calling him 'Willie'?" 

The next morning, at 09:08, Wiggett receives a message from Breytenbach, seeking "advice" on Wiggett's industry.

"That's when I know Willem has had a bad night," Wiggett says. 

Wiggett calls Breytenbach's office on a whim, intending to hang up as soon as he has been transferred, only to be informed that Breytenbach had called in sick. 

"He's even more worried than I thought," Wiggett muses. "The walls are closing in around Willem Breytenbach…"

According to Wiggett, his lawyers are happy with the evidence he has managed to gather, which he describes as "highly detailed". 

He dedicates this episode to Ben whom he describes as his brother. "Ben, thank you. Meeting you gave me the big break I needed, both factually and emotionally. He is one of the heroes of this story. Not only are you my brother, but you were the first to say to me, 'me too'." 

In next week's episode

After leaving Grey College "in disgrace", Breytenbach made his way to the small Eastern Cape hamlet off Willowmore, where he taught for another five years. This completes the "seven missing years" that Wiggett tried to uncover before Breytenbach made his way to Cape Town where he started a career in the media industry in 1995. 

In 1996, Wiggett meets Breytenbach when he is 16 years old. At that time, Breytenbach was working at Die Burger newspaper in Cape Town.

"In the next two decades, Willem would rise through the ranks to become one of the most senior executives [at Media24 and Naspers**]. 

"Breytenbach's time as a teacher had ended, but that doesn't mean he had left schools. Die Burger had appointed him as education reporter… because you can't make this stuff up…" 

Wiggett will reveal how Breytenbach came up with a new scheme that would give him access "to all the high school boys his heart desired… me too".

  • Warrant Officer Rowan Andrews is the investigating officer in the case. He has confirmed to News24 that the criminal investigation into Breytenbach is ongoing and has asked members of the public with information that can assist the case to contact him on 082 729 8155 or 021 590 1001.

The final episode of My Only Story will be published on November 28. 

Before founding his own companies, Breytenbach headed the digital division of Media24 magazines. He also headed the Media24 Weekly Magazines division. Prior to that, he headed up business development for the Naspers Group in India. He started his career with the company as a newspaper journalist before becoming business editor and later news editor of Die Burger. He also headed a special project for school newspapers. 

*Not their real names. 

**News24 is a division of Media24, a division of Naspers. 

Read more on:    naspers  |  media24  |  willem breytenbach  |  my only story  |  rape  |  sexual abuse

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