Boy was a problem child - camp owner

Johannesburg - Raymond Buys was a problem child and used "many tricks" to avoid completing his work at a military-style camp, murder accused Alex de Koker told the Vereeniging Regional Court on Wednesday.

"He sat the whole day and did nothing, he was full of tricks," the 49-year-old camp owner said under cross-examination by prosecutor Kobus Jacobs.

"Raymond has lied before and has been caught out. You weren't there to see his tricks... That boy pulled a lot of tricks on me. His mom said he was a problem."

De Koker and his co-accused Michael Erasmus are charged with murder, child abuse, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, relating to the death of Buys, 15, at the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp in 2011. The camp was designed to "turn boys into men".

The court heard that De Koker only made a character profile on Buys and not on the other children that went to his school, because he gave a lot of trouble.

He admitted to the court that despite Buy's complaints of a sore body and swollen hands, he was told to continue with his work.

He also told the boy that his body was sore because "it was too thin" and that his body did not have enough strength.

The court heard that Buys had not eaten and De Koker said he should have forced the teenager to eat.

He said Buys purposely injured himself to avoid doing work at the camp.

As De Koker spoke, Erasmus sat in the dock biting his nails.

Jacobs questioned De Koker about transcripts of recordings he made of conversations with Buys.

"You have marks on your body because of your own stupidity," De Koker told Buys, according to the transcripts read out by Jacobs.

However, he said he never witnessed Buys ever hitting himself.

Using violence

Jacobs said De Koker assaulted the boy when he did not do what he was told.

"If things didn't go right, the way you wanted, you used violence," Jacobs said.

"That's your opinion," De Koker responded.

However, in a recording De Koker told Buys there were only two ways of doing things at the camp - one where everyone worked well together and the other where he would discipline them physically.

He also told the court that Buys lied when he said other people at the camp assaulted him.

"You assumed he lied, you didn't find out if someone hit him," said Jacobs.

De Koker denied this and said Jacobs was not there to witness the incident. Buys had told him that someone kept hitting him with a yellow pipe.

"Why didn't you ask who hit him? Why didn't you investigate?" Jacobs asked.

"I will tell you why you didn't, because then we would know what really happened."

He said Buys's body language and a lack of injuries was the reason he did not investigate.

However, he did admit to the court that he was negligent.

"Yes, I was negligent. There are a lot of things I neglected to do," De Koker said.

Jacobs said the post mortem revealed that five of Buys's ribs were broken two to three weeks before he died.

Case postponed

Magistrate Retha Willemse postponed the case to 17 September to give De Koker a chance to consult his lawyer and to decide if they would close their case.

During Jacob's cross-examination, De Koker indicated he wanted to submit photos and to call a new witness.

Willemse said the trial would provisionally be set down for 1 to 4 December.

According to NGO Women and Men Against Child Abuse, Buys was severely emaciated, dehydrated, had brain damage, skull fractures, a broken arm, and bruises and cigarette burns all over his body, allegedly as a result of De Koker's actions and orders.

Buys had allegedly been forced to eat his own faeces.

Buys died in hospital in 2011 shortly after attending the camp.