'It was horseplay’, says former Parktown Boys’ boarding master who choked pupil
A former boarding master at Parktown Boys’ High School‚ Collan Rex‚ on Tuesday denied that he had attempted to kill learners at the school when he had choked them.
He also strongly denied a number of accusations that he had touched some of the boys' genitals‚ that he had exposed them to pornography and that he had put his mouth on the genitals of one of the boys.
Rex‚ 22‚ was testifying in his own defence at the South Gauteng High Court‚ sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court‚ where he originally faced 327 counts when his trial began in August.
Three weeks ago‚ the number of counts was reduced to 183 counts‚ which include one count of rape‚ 110 counts of attempted murder‚ 55 of sexual assault‚ seven of exposure of pornography to a child‚ two of sexual grooming‚ and eight of assault.
The reduction in charges was owing to Rex pleading guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault against 12 of the 23 boys who are complainants in the sex scandal that has rocked the school.
At the end of the state's case on Monday‚ the counts were further reduced when the court acquitted Rex on counts ranging from attempted murder‚ sexual assault‚ assault and exposing a minor to pornography.
A number of boys testified how he had choked them during 2016. Others testified that he had touched their genitals during that year.
During his cross-examination by prosecutor Arveena Persad‚ Rex said he did not know why the witnesses believed he had tried to kill them when he had choked them during what he described as bonding exercises.
"There was never any intent or attempt to kill him‚" Rex said when asked about choking one pupil who passed out.
Persad asked Rex whether he had considered the possibility of the boy losing the functioning of his brain when he lost consciousness. Rex said he did not.
Rex said he did not think that strangling the boys would cause them harm‚ unless they passed out. He meant no harm when choking the boys and said "it was merely horseplay".
At the time‚ I found it entertaining. I now see it as childish.
When Persad asked Rex why he had choked the children‚ Rex‚ said he was young at the time. "I was 19 or 20. I was very immature. At the time‚ I found it entertaining. I now see it as childish‚" he said.
However‚ Rex denied ever touching the boys' genitals. He also denied ever watching a pornographic video with any of the boys.
He denied "dry humping" one of the boys or inviting one of the boys to his room and placing his mouth on the genital organs of the boy.
'I strongly deny doing that to him. I don't understand why he would not have reported this‚" Rex said.
The trial continues.