Collan Rex allegedly used to choke his victims until they passed out. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Schoolboys broke down during testimony as they relived the alleged harrowing acts of their former coach choking them until they passed out.

This happened at the South Gauteng High Court, sitting at Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court where Collan Rex is facing countless charges for allegedly molesting schoolboys while he was an assistant polo coach and hostel master at Parktown Boys’ High School.

Last week Rex pleaded guilty to 144 counts and is also facing more than 90 attempted murder charges for allegedly being engaged in frequent acts of visiting the school’s hostel rooms and violently wrestling with schoolboys.

However, the 22-year-old Rex’s defence advocate, William Robertse, said his client would testify that the wrestling was “a normal playful” exercise and “a game”, and that the accused had no intention to kill any of the learners.

The court heard testimony from three boys, the first of whom was a 17-year-old former Parktown Boys learner, who Rex admitted to sexually assaulting on multiple occasions from 2015 to 2016 when the teenager was in Grade 8 and Grade 9.

The youngster, who cannot be named in order to protect his identity as he is a minor, demonstrated a choking act which Rex allegedly performed by putting him in a supposed wrestling move known as a headlock.

“It (the choking) was on multiple occasions, usually after prep (study session).

“He (Rex) would come to the dorms and pick on a random person and would start (with the choking),” the boy testified, slowly wiping away tears from his face.

The teenager added that the act was akin to “force with aggression”.

The boy’s version was echoed by an 18-year-old Parktown Boys' matric learner, who testified that the coach had choked him until he passed out in 2016 during a water polo trip in Durban.

The Grade 12 learner sad Rex had chased him then used his legs to put the teenager in a hold to a point where the boy said he passed out for roughly five seconds.

The learner had earlier testified that the had witnessed Rx choke another schoolboy until he passed out for approximately 10 seconds. Rex laughed when the boy regained consciousness, the boy said. 

However, Robertse insisted that these act were "normal games" which Rex played with the learners and his client would argue that there was no malice in the acts. 

The accused, who was dressed in a dark suit and a blue tie, stared straight ahead as the pupils accused him of committing violence against them.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Arveena Persad told the court that the fears of "undue mental stress" for Rex's alleged attempted murder victims had necessitated the use of an intermediary to assist two of the learners who testified on Tuesday. Social worker Tintswalo Matumbi, who said she has seven years' experience in the field was roped in to be an intermediary between the court and the underage witnesses who testified in camera.

In addition to the 144 sexual assault charges that he has admitted to, Rex is also facing a further 183 charges which include attempted murder, rape, sexual grooming and exposing minors to pornography.

He pleaded not guilty to all these charges.

The Star