'That's hectic stuff' - parents speak about hearing details in Parktown sex assault case

2018-11-29 16:26
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 Images, file)

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 Images, file)

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The parents of the victims of former Parktown Boys' High assistant coach Collan Rex have relayed the emotional turmoil that they endured as the details of what happened to their sons emerged in court.

"When you then sit in the courtroom and hear the details, that's hectic stuff," an emotional mother said.

She said many parents heard what happened for the first time when the trial got under way. 

"My son, for instance, said: 'Mom I'm not giving you the details. I'm not telling you anything,'" she said.

The boys would only talk to the investigating officer and State representatives.

Long journey ahead

But she warned that it was not the end of their journey because their goal was always to challenge the school and the Gauteng Department of Education.

"We still have a long journey ahead of us because this little band of mommies that came on board are absolutely determined that today we only have a partial victory in the sentencing of Collan Rex," she said. 

"The real victory will come when the school stands up and abolish all forms of initiation, all grade camps, all first team initiation camps, when they fire the teachers that looked the other way when our boys were being abused."

Other parents agreed that they didn't just want to see justice prevail, but also wanted to challenge the "systematic abuse that has been happening at Parktown Boys".

The parents were speaking after Acting Judge Peet Johnson Rex sentenced Rex to 23 years behind bars - 20 years for sexual assault and three for common assault – on Thursday.

Rex initially faced 327 charges. However, he pleaded guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault and 12 counts of common assault.

Johnson did not mince his words when he imposed the sentence and described Rex, who recently turned 23 in September, as a "serial sexual offender and sexual bully".  

Johnson added that the sentence would also send out a message to other predators that sexual offences were taken seriously.

"Your reign of terror, fortunately for [them], has now ended," Johnson said.

Read: Court hears of Parktown Boys assistant coach's difficult upbringing

Parents said they would now pick up the pieces and move on.

After the proceedings, an emotional father said they had not expected the harsh sentence, but were happy that it was "a lot more" than what they had expected.

He said they would now focus on their son: "We just want to focus on my son recovering, healing and carrying on; and need to make sure that this thing never happens again. I am willing to ensure that it never happens again." 

Women & Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) and South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (Samsosa) have been following the case. They welcomed the sentence, saying that they hoped the victims would now be closer to healing.

"We welcome this strong message to warn child abusers, especially in a position of trust, that society will no longer enable them," WMACA's Miranda Jordan said. 

Samsosa's Rees Mann said the sentence sent a clear message to sex predators. 

He said it should not be taken for granted that the real heroes in the case were the 23 boys who came forward and spoke out about Rex's abuse. 

"The boys were victims but now they are survivors. I never want anybody to underestimate the trauma that these boys went through," Mann said.

He pointed out that, while Rex had been sentenced, the victims would have to face the consequences of the sexual abuse for years to come.

"I think the judge has created a precedent with this case and I think this must be a first whose been accused of so many charges and actually found guilty of so many charges," said Mann. 

Also Read: 'He appears to have denied responsibility' - expert testifies in case of Parktown coach

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi also welcomed the sentence.

"We wish to thank the entire school population, including learners, educators, parents and all officials for an excellent job of providing a watertight case in ensuring that justice prevailed. We also extend our gratitude to the law enforcement agencies, including the police and the prosecution team for their tireless efforts of securing an appropriate judgment" said Lesufi.

The department said the sentence should serve as a deterrent.

"We would like to also acknowledge our stakeholders, like Teddy Bear Clinic and other psychological workers and all health professionals who worked on this complex and emotionally straining case. We are indeed indebted to you," the department said.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  sexual abuse
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