Former Parktown Boys' assistant water polo coach Collan Rex arrives at the Palm Ridge court. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Collan Rex, the former Parktown Boys High School assistant water polo coach who was found guilty of 144 charges of sexual assault and 12 of charges common assault is expected to be sentenced on Thursday. 

Rex physically and sexually assaulted more than a dozen learners at the prestigious Johannesburg school.

Over the past two days, the High Court sitting at Palm Ridge heard the victim impact statements of a number of pupils as well as a report from Xolisa Budaza, a social worker at the Department of Social Development. The court also heard how Rex, himself a former pupil at Parktown Boys, was exposed to a culture of physical and sexual abuse at the school while still a boarder.

“He was exposed to a culture which normalised and encouraged inappropriate sexual behaviour by fellow learners and adults such as his coach in the school,” the report read.

Budaza recommended direct imprisonment because of the seriousness of the crimes, the ages of the victims and the sheer volume of charges against Rex. She made the recommendation after interviewing Rex, members of his family, other social workers involved in the case as well as a former teacher at the school. 

According to Budaza, the victim impact statements though were instrumental in her conclusion that a custodial sentence was the best option in this case. 

One victim impact statement read out in court recounted how new Grade 8 learners were inducted into the school community by being beaten by older boys and taught the unofficial code of silence at the school. 

Another victim said he was unable to return to the school because he feels shamed and shunned by pupils and teachers for breaking the code of silence.

Two other pupils had attempted suicide as a result of being preyed on by Rex, the court heard.