“Gay cure” camp rangers found guilty of murder


15-year-old Raymond Buys, shortly before he died

Two men behind a brutal South African masculinising and gay cure youth camp have been found guilty of murdering a 15-year-old boy.

Emaciated and dehydrated, teenager Raymond Buys died in hospital in 2011 with brain damage, a broken arm, bruises and cigarette burns on his body.

On Friday, the Vereeniging Regional Court found Alex de Koker and his former employee Michael Erasmus guilty of not only murder, but also child abuse and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Their Echo Wild Game Rangers Camp, in which two other boys had previously died, promised parents to “turn boys” and “moffies” into “men”.

According to testimony previously heard in court, Buys was forced to do manual labour and was beaten with planks, pipes, sticks, a shovel and a hose when he didn’t do his work correctly.

He was also forced to eat his own faeces and washing powder, was chained to his bed, tasered and was not allowed to go to the toilet. By the time the abused teen was eventually taken to hospital it was too late for doctors to save him.

De Koker, who owned the camp, had insisted that all of Buys’ injuries were self-inflicted or caused by fights with another boy at the camp.

Sapa reported that Magistrate Retha Willemse described De Koker as “a pathetic witness,” and found that it was “absurd” for him to have claimed that he was not aware of the boy’s injuries.

Willemse also said that Erasmus was a willing participant in the abuse and was not just following orders.

Buys’ mother has said that she had sent him to the three month camp, which cost R22,000, to make him “a better man”.

The South African Society of Psychiatrists “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy designed to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.” It has also warned that this kind of therapy “runs the risk of harming patients by causing depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviour”.

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