Parents protest outside court as sentencing in Parktown Boys’ High sexual assault case postponed
The case against Collan Rex‚ a former assistant water polo coach at Parktown Boys' High School‚ was postponed on Wednesday to next month - to the dismay of parents and child activists supporting them.
Rex‚ appearing at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court in Katlehong‚ east of Johannesburg‚ is out on bail of R3‚000.
His case was postponed to November 27 for the probation officer’s report.
“The probation officer’s report was not ready today [Wednesday]‚ so the case was postponed for it to be made available‚” Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona told SowetanLIVE.
A group of parents protested outside the court after the matter was postponed.
“The parents are not happy with the disciplinary process involving other teachers at the school. They say that the department is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. We have explained that we cannot act outside the disciplinary processes taking place‚” said Mabona.
Mabona said Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi had launched an investigation into the conduct of the teachers who had been accused of racism and assault.
Child rights groups also protested against the delay in the court proceedings‚ criticising the Department of Social Development for failing to ensure its probation officers completed their reports.
"I am outraged regarding this postponement - everybody was ready to go ahead with sentence today and only the State social workers caused the delay‚” said Rees Mann of South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse.
“Today would have been an important day in the healing process for these boys but now they will have to go home and suffer in silence for the next few weeks while Rex gets to go home‚" Mann said in a statement.
Luke Lamprecht‚ representing Women and Men Against Child Abuse‚ said: “I am devastated for the boys and their parents‚ who expected this case to end today.”
“Basically what happened today amounts to tertiary abuse by the State‚” he asserted.
“The boys have had to endure three sets of interviews - their initial statements to SAPS and follow up Victim Impact statements and then were subjected to yet another‚ third set of interviews by State-appointed probation officers from the Department of Social Development‚ who did not compile their reports on time‚” Lamprecht said.
WMACA added: “This very important case has raised issues surrounding sexual abuse and initiation rites at boys' schools that we cannot look away from - toxic masculinity and the protection of predators by enablers such as the old boys' system should be looked at and discussed in depth in future - it is something that we as a society can no longer look away from and should address urgently if we're to prevent such wholesale abuse from being repeated.”
During the trial‚ the court heard testimony from Rex’s victims‚ who alleged that he had choked them‚ shown them pornographic material and performed sexual acts on them. They were aged between 13 and 16 years.
The 22-year-old‚ who was also a boarding master at the school‚ pleaded guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault against 12 of the 23 boys who are complainants in the sex scandal. However‚ he pleaded not guilty to a further 183 counts‚ which included one of rape‚ 110 of attempted murder‚ 55 of sexual assault‚ seven of exposure of pornography to a child‚ two of sexual grooming and eight of assault. Delivering his judgment in September‚ Johnson found Rex guilty of 12 counts of assault and a further 144 of sexual assault.