Camp owner, prosecutor clash in court

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iol pi csa SS_buys0~2 Independent Newspapers Murder-accused camp owner Alex de Koker File photo: Mujahid Safodien

Vereeniging - The murder-accused owner of a military-style camp where three boys died and the prosecutor in his case argued in the Vereeniging Regional Court on Wednesday.

“I put it to you that you caused his (Raymond Buys's) death,” prosecutor Kobus Jacobs told Alex de Koker.

“That is a blatant lie,” De Koker replied.

Before concluding his cross-examination, Jacobs said: “This is a story of Alex the angel and Michael the monster.”

De Koker and Michael Erasmus are charged with murder, child abuse, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, relating to the death of Raymond Buys, 15, at their Echo Wild Game Rangers camp. It was designed to “turn boys into men”.

Jacobs told De Koker that a reasonable person would have taken Buys to a hospital if they had seen his injuries.

The court heard that Buys fought with Erasmus and another student at the camp. De Koker said Buys often injured himself.

Jacobs questioned De Koker on a statement Erasmus made in which he said De Koker threw a shovel at Buys.

De Koker said he did not throw the shovel at Buys, but in his direction, and accused the State of believing people that lied and not investigating.

“His (Erasmus's) chance will come. You didn't do your job,” he told Jacobs.

“I'm just glad you don't have a shovel with you,” Jacobs responded.

A visibly upset De Koker responded: “I don't need a shovel with you.”

According to NGO Women and Men Against Child Abuse, Buys was severely emaciated, dehydrated, had brain damage, skull fractures, a broken arm, and bruises and cigarette burns all over his body, allegedly as a result of De Koker's actions and orders. Buys had allegedly been forced to eat his own faeces.

He died in 2011, a month after being admitted to a Vereeniging hospital following a 10-week stay at the camp. He had been banned from contacting his family during his stay.

Three years after the trial started, the State completed presenting its evidence on Thursday.

On Wednesday, De Koker said all the injuries Buys had suffered were self-inflicted. Jacobs questioned him on transcripts he had of recordings of conversations between himself and Buys where he expressed concern over the teenager harming himself.

De Koker said his way to discipline Buys was to dominate and attack him to confess, because the teenager often lied.

He said he should have forced Buys to eat and should have investigated the cause of his pain and bruises.

De Koker's son Anthony, however, testified earlier this year that the conversations were staged. A tearful De Koker told the court his son said this because he despised him.

On Wednesday, Jacobs said the only reason De Koker made the recording was to have a scapegoat because he knew his treatment of Buys was wrong.

De Koker said he was negligent for not taking Buys to see a doctor. He said he had no reason to assault the teenager, but said he was a lot of trouble.

When Jacobs concluded, Magistrate Retha Willemse questioned De Koker on his testimony. De Koker told the court Buys was chained to his bed because he tried to commit suicide.

“What does that tell you about his emotional state? What did you do after he tried to commit suicide?” Willemse asked.

“You chained him to a bed. Did you call his mother? Did you not see red lights?”

De Koker said the suicide attempt was a rumour.

“I chained him to the bed after I heard a rumour that he wanted to commit suicide. But afterwards I noticed that there were no facts to the rumours.”

Willemse responded: “It makes no sense. Yet, you called his mother after he had an epileptic episode.”

De Koker, Erasmus, and Buys's families were in court on Wednesday. - Sapa



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