A social worker has recommended that Collan Rex who was found guilty of 144 counts of sexual assault, should be sentenced to direct imprisonment. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - A social worker has recommended that a former assistant water polo coach at Parktown Boys High, who was found guilty of 144 counts of sexual assault and 12 counts of assault in September, should be sentenced to direct imprisonment.

Xoliswa Budaza, who assisted with compiling a pre-sentencing report on Collan Rex after interviewing him, said he had acted inappropriately towards his victims and impacted their lives.

In her report, handed into the high court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, she said the appropriate sentence was direct imprisonment.

Budaza read the report which stated that Rex's stepfather abused alcohol and verbally abused Rex and his mother.

During the consultation, Rex told Budaza that he was subjected to abuse at Parktown Boys when he was in grade eight and was traumatised by the initiation process.

He said the wrestling and grabbing of each other's genitals were aimed at making them strong men and after some time it became normal.

Boarding house director Christian Bossert and his wife said that Rex was not punctual and was immature. They said they received reports and complaints about his wrestling the younger boys.

Rex's family said they were hurt that he was being punished for behaviour that was normalised at the school and that he had never shown behavioural problems.

Rex also told Budaza that prior to the case he lacked knowledge of sexual assault but following the case he realised that he had also fallen victim to sexual assault throughout his high school days.

Defence lawyer William Robertse called Rex's girlfriend of three months, Jolene Farina, to testify in mitigation of sentence. She told the court that she was visited by Budaza who said she was under pressure to recommend direct imprisonment or her career would be jeopardised. 

State prosecutor Arveena Persad asked Farina whether Rex had told her about his convictions.

She said that Rex told her that he was being accused of sexual assault and that she could google the matter to get clarity.

"I had nothing to do with it."

Persad put it to her that the matter did have something to do with her because she had a five-year-old child.

"I stick to my word that it has nothing to do with me." 

The trial continues.

African News Agency (ANA)