I was negligent, says camp ownerComment on this story
Vereeniging - The murder-accused owner of a military-style camp where three boys died admitted in the Vereeniging Regional Court on Wednesday that he had been negligent.
“Yes, I was negligent. There are a lot of things I neglected to do,” Alex de Koker said under cross-examination from prosecutor Kobus Jacobs.
De Koker and his co-accused 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 the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp. The camp was designed to “turn boys into men”.
Jacobs questioned De Koker about transcripts of recordings he made of conversations with Buys.
Buys told him someone kept hitting him with a yellow pipe.
“Why didn't you ask who hit him? Why didn't you investigate?” Jacobs asked.
“I will tell you why you didn't, because then we would know what really happened.”
De Koker responded: “No sir. You should not twist things... Raymond has lied before and has been caught out. You weren't there to see his tricks... That boy pulled a lot of tricks on me.”
He said Buys's body language and a lack of injuries were the reasons why he did not investigate.
De Koker told the court that Buys and Erasmus were involved in fist fights and that Buys fought with another teenager at the camp called Gerhard.
“He came to me and told me he was assaulted and I told Michael no one was allowed to hit Buys,” De Koker told the court.
“I did not see it (the fight). I did not see the injuries either.”
In an argument with Jacobs, De Koker admitted he never investigated when Buys told him he was in pain. In the recordings De Koker told Buys his injuries were self-inflicted.
In the recordings, De Koker said the injuries Buys had were the result of his “own stupid things”.
De Koker's son Anthony, however, testified earlier this year that the conversations were staged. A tearful De Koker told the court his son had said this because he despised him.
As De Koker spoke, Erasmus sat in the dock biting his nails.
According to the 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. - Sapa