Raymond Buys, shortly before he died
The man behind a brutal South African masculinising and gay cure youth camp has insisted that he did not cause the horrific death of a 15-year-old boy.
Echo Wild Game Rangers camp owner Alex de Koker and employee Michael Erasmus are facing charges of murder, child abuse, neglect and assault with intent to cause serious physical injury.
Emaciated and dehydrated, teenager Raymond Buys died in hospital in 2011 with brain damage, a broken arm, bruises and cigarette burns on his body.
The camp, in which two other boys had previously died, promised parents to “turn boys into men”. The trial has now dragged on for three years.
According to SAPA, De Koker told the Vereeniging Regional Court that all of Buys’ injuries were self-inflicted or caused by fights with another boy at the camp.
He has also claimed that he chained the teen to a bed because he “heard a rumour that he wanted to commit suicide.”
A transcript of recordings has been presented in court in which De Koker apparently expressed his concerns to Buys about his well-being. According to De Koker’s own son, however, the recorded conversations were staged in order for the camp owner to cover up the abuse.
De Koker has denied the murder charge, saying that it “is a blatant lie,” but admitted in court that, “Yes, I was negligent. There are a lot of things I neglected to do.”
Women and Men Against Child Abuse, which has been following the trial, reported that the trial was postponed again on Wednesday and may only resume in December. The delay has apparently been caused by De Koker demanding that the audio recordings be forensically analysed to prove their authenticity.
According to testimony heard in court last year, 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 allegedly also forced to eat his own faeces and washing powder, was reportedly chained to his bed and was not allowed to go to the toilet.
By the time the teen was eventually taken to hospital it was too late for doctors to save him.
In 2007, Erich Calitz (18) died from brain injuries suffered at the camp while Nicholas van der Walt (19) died at the same camp held in the North West province.
Calitz’s sister, Mathilda Groenwald, told the Star newspaper that when her brother tried to leave the camp after being beaten, De Koker “told him that he wasn’t a moffie [gay] and he would make a man out of him”.
De Koker was given a suspended sentence in 2009 over Calitz’s death and was never charged for Van der Walt’s death.
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”.