Willem Breytenbach case: 41 men claim they were sexually abused, youngest alleged victim was 12

Alleged sex offender Willem Breytenbach during his first appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)
Alleged sex offender Willem Breytenbach during his first appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

More men who allege they were raped or sexually abused by former teacher and journalist Willem Breytenbach have come forward, bringing the total to 41. 

Of these, 17 victims were younger than 16 when Breytenbach allegedly abused them, seven were younger than 18 and the youngest victim was 12 years old at the time of the alleged incident.

These alleged incidents took place between 1983 and 2019. Of these alleged victims, eight were pupils at Grey College in Bloemfontein and 11 at Hoërskool Langenhoven in Riversdale, where Breytenbach taught in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Seven, including whistleblower Deon Wiggett, came into contact with Breytenbach in their teens while participating in a school newspaper project Breytenbach organised when in the employ of Media24.

Nine others claim Breytenbach, 55, abused them when they were his employees at Cape Town-based digital marketing firms Lumico and Lightspeed Digital Media from 2014 to 2019.

Breytenbach will appear in court again on Tuesday. According to Wiggett, three more charges were expected to be added to the charge sheet.

Willem Breytenbach
Alleged sex offender Willem Breytenbach during his first appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Breytenbach was arrested at his psychologist's practice in Hartenbos near Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape on December 3. He appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on December 5 on two charges: one of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. He was released on R50 000 bail.

In November last year, Wiggett and News24 co-published a series of podcasts called My Only Story, in which Wiggett exposed Breytenbach as an alleged sexual predator, which ultimately led to his arrest.

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

"I've been overwhelmed by both information and kindness. I'm so moved by the amount of men and women who continue reaching out to me to tell me the podcast has helped them," Wigget told News24.

"Even if nobody got arrested, it would have been worthwhile. I mean, it's such a privilege that people are trusting me enough to tell me about the men who abused them, because some of those men, we're in the process of catching. We're doing all we can to ruin 2020 for men who f**k with children."

Penguin Random House will publish Wiggett's book, My Only Story, in September.

In his book, Wiggett plans to track Breytenbach's trail of alleged abuse from Kroonstad, where he grew up, to Bloemfontein, the small towns of Willowmore and Riversdale, and finally to Cape Town, where he allegedly raped Wiggett and other men.

Wiggett will also, for the first time, tell his full story, including allegations of rape.

Asked whether he had faith in the justice system, Wiggett said: "I think most of Breytenbach's survivors thoroughly enjoy seeing him in the company of the criminal justice system, and of men his own age.

"After a brief appearance in court, he will have to leave Cape Town right away, because he's on bail and he's not allowed to stay there. He'll have the drive to Reebok to reflect on all he has done, but I don't suspect he will.

"Four hours later, he'll be back in Reebok, back in the Mossel Bay magistrate's district he's no longer allowed to leave. That's where he lives now. With his mother."

On November 21, following an extensive search, News24 tracked Breytenbach to his mother's house in Reebok. He politely declined to answer any questions.

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