Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he welcomed the 23-year sentence meted out to sex offender Collan Rex, the former water polo assistant at Parktown Boys High who was convicted of assaulting schoolboys.
“We wish to thank the entire school population including learners, educators, parents and all officials for an excellent job of providing a watertight case in ensuring that justice prevailed,” said Lesufi. “We also extend our gratitude to the law enforcement agencies, including the police and the prosecution team for their tireless efforts in securing an appropriate judgment.”
The department thanked the Teddy Bear Clinic, other psychological workers and all health professionals who worked on what it described as a “complex and emotionally straining case”.
The department said the sentence served as a deterrent to all those who were found guilty of sexually assaulting pupils at schools.
Rex was yesterday sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment for sexual and common assault by the High Court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. Judge Peet Johnson sentenced Rex to 20 years for 144 sexual assault charges and an additional three years for 12 common assault charges.
“The court must send out the message that sexual assault of children will not be accepted and such behaviour will not be tolerated,” the judge said.
“It is unfortunate that irresponsible sexual bullies find their way into the schooling system. You are a danger to society, and children in particular. A harsh sentence is called for. “
Rex, himself a former Parktown boys pupil, was found guilty of the charges after he was caught on CCTV at the school assaulting students.
“It’s clear your actions had a devastating impact on their lives and their families,” Judge Johnson told him. “There were attempts to commit suicide and some are on constant suicide watch.”
He said the only thing that saved Rex from more convictions was that some of the boys could not remember exact days and times.
“They were so afraid of you that they tried to hide away from you.”
The judge said he had never come across anyone who had committed so many sexual assaults and considered Rex a serial sexual offender and sexual bully who had exploited the abusive culture at the school.
“Your conduct was discovered by chance,” Judge Johnson said, adding that he did not believe Rex at any point thought his actions were wrong.
One of Rex’s victims said he was happy with the sentence and was now focused on recovering.
South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse founder Rees Mann said the sentence would send a strong message to predators.
“Twenty-three years gives the opportunity for the boys to heal.”