Johannesburg - For two years, 23 teenagers were too frightened to report the alleged abuse they suffered at the hands of their assistant water polo coach.
Strangling, molestation, showings of pornographic material and even a rape on the Parktown Boys school premises remained a secret.
It was only through a coincidence that the first assault was discovered, eventually leading to the school’s discovery of 22 other victims and at least 92 other incidents of sexual assault.
Now, after his first appearance at the High Court in Joburg on Friday, the Saturday Star can reveal new details of how the 21-year-old was apprehended and how he allegedly inflicted his spree of abuse on his pupils.
A source close to the investigation said it was an unrelated pupil who initially approached the school’s security department to ask to look at CCTV footage to find his missing bag.
However, as security searched the tapes, the team stumbled on footage of the accused assaulting a pupils.
The teenager was approached and the investigation began, uncovering more than a dozen other pupils who came forward with stories of similar incidents.
When the story broke, even more approached the school’s administration, forming the 23-strong set of 14 to 16-year-old complainants currently fighting at the high court.
The young man faces 94 charges of sexual assault, with many of the incidents happening while the accused was supervising children during their “preparation sessions”, or homework times, in the dorm rooms at the Druce Hall hostel, or at the school’s swimming pool area.
A sports trip to Durban has also been cited at the centre of an incident where some of the complainants were touched inappropriately.
The Saturday Star understands many of the incidents between 2015 and 2016 involved the accused allegedly grabbing the teenagers’ genitals, squeezing their buttocks, or stroking their legs.
Many of the complainants have also accused the young man of “dry humping” them - in other words, rubbing his body on them, usually while fully clothed.
The accused also faces 32 charges of attempted murder, as many of the pupils involved refer to the accused as having choked them until they passed out, often during what the accused would play off as “wrestling” or “rough play”.
The single rape charge relates to an incident where the accused used his fingers to penetrate the anus of one of the boys.
The four charges of exposing pupils to pornography and two further of sexual grooming related to screenings of 50 Shades of Gray, where the accused allegedly stroked his victims while they watched the erotic, bondage-themed romance.
On Friday, at the pre-trial conference for the case at the High Court in Joburg, a trial date was meant to be set.
However, prosecutor Arveena Persad told the court that the defence was unwilling to set such a date until they had been placed in funds.
Defence attorney, Clinton Symes, confirmed this to the court, though the issue was set to be resolved by November 10, the provisional date agreed on between both sides.
In a statement released to the media in July, the school’s governing body confirmed it had provided psychological support and counselling to the pupils involved.
“A senior representative from the Gauteng education department’s psychological service has visited the school and continues to work closely with us,” said Nicholas Greyling, chairman of the governing body, at the time.