Parktown Boys' High water polo coach found guilty of 144 counts of sexual assault

A former Parktown Boys' High School assistant water polo coach was found guilty of 144 counts of sexual assault and 12 counts of common assault in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

EWN reported that the 22-year-old accused’s legal team earlier argued that he should be acquitted on a number of the charges, calling the credibility of witnesses into account.

According to IOL, the accused pleaded guilty to 144 charges of sexually assaulting 12 schoolboys, aged between 13 and 16, during a period between 2015 and 2016.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi welcomed Friday's verdict.

"We welcome the decision. I am relieved that the court found him guilty. This has consoled us and we hope it will also console families," Lesufi told News24 after the judgment.

The hostel master initially faced 327 counts, but pleaded guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault in August. The court also acquitted him on some charges.

Lesufi expressed gratitude to the pupils and parents that assisted the court with this case.

"We want to thank the boys that testified, as well as their parents for offering them support throughout this period," Lesufi said.

News24 previously reported that one witness, a 17-year-old student, had told the court through a court intermediary how, in 2016, the accused had "dry humped" him and touched his genitals. He added that he had also been choked by the ex-coach.

He said all of this would happen in their hostel dorms after prayers.

A report commissioned by the Gauteng Department of Education into allegations of sexual assault at the school blew the lid off a number of disturbing practices,  which implicated several other teachers.

These included "sexually predatory behaviour" by senior pupils against junior pupils, a culture of assault and sexual assault under the guise of "initiation practices", and "profoundly shocking" utterances made by teachers in the presence of pupils.

The report was compiled by an independent law firm, Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys.

According to Lesufi, the report confirmed that "uncalled for" things had continued to take place at the school.

Hearings for department staff implicated in the report are expected to take place on September 14 and 15.

The Gauteng NPA told News 24 that they would comment on Friday's verdict at a later stage.