Lesufi praises Parktown boys who testified against former water polo coach
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has praised the pupils who testified against Collan Rex‚ the former Parktown Boys’ High School assistant water polo coach.
Rex‚ 22‚ was found guilty of 12 counts of assault and 144 of sexual assault by the South Gauteng High Court‚ sitting at the Palmridge Magistrate’s Court‚ on Friday.
“We are relieved that we managed to get a guilty verdict. It’s a huge pain that we have subjected our boys [to] through this process. I really have to thank the learners that came to give evidence. They must not be discouraged by some of the things the judge picked up [on]. We also want to thank the parents that came to give them support‚” Lesufi said.
Rex did not display any emotion when acting Judge Peet Johnson delivered judgment and was seen leaving the courtroom alone.
A number of boys from the well-known Johannesburg school had testified how‚ in 2016‚ Rex had choked them. Others told of how he had touched their genitals. One pupil described how Rex made him watch the erotic movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
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 a “bonding exercises”. He said he had meant no harm when choking the boys and that "it was merely horseplay".
Johnson said the prosecution had not proved beyond reasonable doubt its attempted murder charges against Rex.
He said Rex’s actions in assaulting the boys were intentional but the State could not prove how many times he had assaulted the complainants.
Johnson said the court had to treat single witnesses's evidence with caution‚ including that of the boys who claimed that Rex had stuck his finger in their anuses. "It was not explained how a person could penetrate an anus with a finger when he [the complainant] has his clothes on” and there was no medical evidence to corroborate these claims.
On the porn rap‚ the judge said: "There is no corroboration that the accused exposed the complainants to pornography. No pornographic material was found on the accused's phone or his laptop."
Johnson said that even if Rex had deleted the pornographic material‚ the police would have recovered it.
The court found Rex to be an honest and open witness who did not try to conceal any evidence and he accepted responsibility for his conduct.
Rex was caught on surveillance camera fondling a 15-year-old in the school’s hostel in November 2016. He was arrested soon afterwards.
In August this year‚ he admitted guilt to 144 counts of sexual assault involving 12 schoolboys. He‚ however‚ pleaded not guilty to a further 183 counts‚ which included charges of rape‚ attempted murder‚ sexual assault‚ exposure of pornography to a child and sexual grooming.