“I’m also a Johan . . .” These words are repeated in one after another of the letters sent to YOU since a reader, Johan Hendrickse, revealed how he’d been molested as a schoolboy 28 years ago by a teacher in Paarl.
His disclosures (YOU, 11 November) spurred several men with similar dark secrets to confront their molesters – in the hope of finally finding closure.
It’s unlikely Johan (43) will be able to pursue a criminal case because the law requires a sexual offence to be reported within 20 years of the event taking place. In cases of rape however there’s no time limit.
Johan and his girlfriend, Annemi van Deventer, were devastated last month when the bad news was broken to them at Paarl Magistrate’s Court.
His attorney has assured him a civil case against the molester would be “99 per cent successful”. This would be another way for justice to be done.
Shortly after hearing his teacher couldn’t be prosecuted for sexually abusing him Johan decided to confront the man personally.
Now Johan has his former teacher’s phone number in front of him, courtesy of a private detective who tracked down the man in Randburg, Gauteng.
“Good afternoon, is that Herman Gouws*?”
He calmed down as he started talking, Johan says later. Looking at Table Mountain from his window he felt as if a mountain had been lifted from his shoulders.
It’s not only the phone call that has helped him come to terms with his abuse. He has also received a huge amount of support since he telling his story to YOU. “I now feel 60 per cent calmer,” Johan says.
“For me you’re a hero and a pioneer,” someone wrote, using the pseudonym “Another Johan from Cape Town”. “My story has one difference. I was sexually molested and abused by my biological mother and scarred for life. I was 11 or 12 years old. I am now 48. I still don’t sleep easy.”
These anecdotes have prompted Johan and Annemi to set up a website where victims of molestation can offer support to one another.
Vernon Moscos (52), also a molestation victim, wants to establish nationwide support groups with Johan for men and boys who have been molested. He was nine when a 16-year-old boy molested him in a Johannesburg children’s home.
*Not his real name.
Read the full story in YOU, 16 December 2010.