Raymond Buys, who had learning difficulties, was admitted to hospital and put on life support two months into a three-month training course run by Alex de Koker’s Echo Wild Game Rangers in the bush an hour south of Johannesburg.
He was severely emaciated and dehydrated, had brain damage, a broken arm and bruises, and cigarette burns all over his body. His mother was told that the chances of him surviving were “virtually zero”. He died two weeks later.
“I sent my son on this course to make him a better man, to give him a better future,” Wilma Buys told The Daily Telegraph. “I trusted Alex de Koker with his life.”
Mr de Koker, 49, and employee Michael Erasmus, 20, are currently on trial for charges of murder, child abuse and neglect, along with two cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in relation to Mr Buys’ death.
His death is alleged to have been the third among the mainly Afrikaans children who attended the R22,000 (£1,500) courses run by Mr de Koker, who was reportedly a member of murdered white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche’s Iron Guards movement.
In 2007, 25-year-old Erich Calitz died from severe brain injuries, according to Afrikaans newspaper Rapport. The same year, 19-year-old Nicholas van der Walt died at the same training camp being run in Swartruggens in the Northwest province.
Mr Calitz’s sister Mathilda Groenwald told Johannesburg’s Star newspaper that her brother was slightly brain-damaged and struggled to hold down jobs. She told the paper he was beaten when he asked to quit the camp, adding: “Alex (de Koker) told him that he wasn’t gay and he would make a man out of him”.
Mr de Koker was handed a suspended sentence in 2009 over Mr Calitz’s death but escaped charges for Mr van der Walt’s death, which was ruled to have been caused by a heart attack.
Mrs Buys said her son had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and was struggling at school. The course had been recommended to her by a friend. When she went to see Mr de Koker, he told her he could help her son find a job in the wildlife trade.
She said that her son started the course on January 12, 2011. Over the next two months, she said, she spoke to Mr Buys just three times – and was told by Mr de Koker that he was self-harming.
“Raymond was only allowed to speak to me on speakerphone,” she said. “When I asked him why he was hurting himself, he told me ‘Mum, I’m not doing it to myself’.”
Mr de Koker rang Mrs Buys on March 23 to say her son had been admitted to hospital for tests. When she arrived, she found that he was dying.
This week, during the trial of the two men at Vereeneging District Court, a boy who shared a tent with Mr Buys sobbed as he recalled how recruits carried out manual labour including cutting grass with machetes and stacking stones to build a dam.
Gerhard Oosthuizen, 19, said Mr Buys was chained to his bed after he tried to escape and, forbidden from going to the bathroom, repeatedly soiled himself, according to a report in Beeld newspaper.
He was said to have told the court that on one occasion, when Mr Buys went to the toilet in a field while the recruits worked, he was forced to eat his own faeces.
On another, Mr Oosthuizen said, after Mr Buys tipped over a container of washing powder, he was forced to eat what he had spilled and vomited foam.
He said Mr Buys was beaten with planks, sticks and plastic pipes when he failed to work, the paper reported.
He was said to have claimed that he had once seen Mr Buys in a hut at the camp with a pillowcase over his head, being shocked with a stun gun by Mr de Koker and Mr Erasmus.
“He screamed … I was scared and ran away,” the newspaper quoted the witness as saying.
Both Mr de Koker and Mr Erasmus have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The case continues.
Raymond Buys, 15, dies after hell camp
Raymond Buys, the fifteen-year-old Afrikaans youth who was rushed to hospital in severely emaciated condition after a ten-week stay at Echo Wild Game Rangers, a controversial ‘game-warden-training camp’ run by rightwinger Alex de Koker, has died Wednesday-night in a Vereeniging hospital according to journalist Riaan Bam of the Sondag tabloid. This is the third death recorded at this camp. The deaths have been recorded as ‘natural deaths’.
Camp cures ‘femine traits’ in male youths…
This is the third death occurring at this camp since 2007. Parents with ‘affeminate’ youths can enrol their children in the camp for R1,500 a month to ‘make men out of them’.
In 2007, Eric Calitz, 18, and Nicolaas van der Walt, 19, also died. Alex de Koker and two assistants were arrested for these days, and released on very low bail amounts by the Swartruggens magistrate’s court. The then-national police commissioner claimed that the camp was being investigated for ‘right-wing militia training activities.’ It’s not known what has happened to this case.
Young Buys fought for his life in the intensive care unit for the past four weeks . A post-mortem examination and an inquest will be held into the cause of death. A week earlier, Echo Wild Game Ranger’s manager Alex de Koker (right) testified in the local court in front of the ‘clearly horrified’ magistrate Bruno van Eeden, that the injuries sustained by the young Buys, who was healthy and unblemished before he entered the costly training course, were ’caused by Raymond himself, for instance when he ran against the pump-house’.
Pictures submitted by the parents to the court however showed the steady deterioration of the Afrikaans youngster after his parents dropped him off at De Koker’s smallholding on 12 January 2011 until they rushed him to hospital ten weeks later. On the first photos before he started his training camp, Raymond was a healthy, cheerful and unblemished youth. His steady deterioration over the next two and a half months turned him into a walking skeleton, with numerous injuries.
His mother Wilna and her fiancee Gys Nezar told Sondag journalist Riaan Bam that her son ‘fought bravely for his life and that he now is with dear Jesus.’
Two Afrikaans youths also died in 2007 at camp:
In 2007, 18-year-old Eric Calitz and Nicolaas van der Walt, 19, also got the chance to train as a game ranger and earn R5,000 a month – and grabbed it. Both young Afrikaners died at Alex de Koker’s camp. De Koker was arrested for the Calitz and Van der Walt deaths – and released on R10 000 bail. He and two of his alleged “lieutenants” Jacques Mans and are facing trial, it was reported in 207, for the brutal murder of 18-year-old Calitz on January 31 2007. After Calitz died, while training with 14 others in Swartruggens, in North West, his family received an SMS telling them he had died of a heart attack…
Inexplicably, Alex de Koker, 43, the chief executive of Echo Wild Game Rangers, assistants Bianca Pronk, 18, and Jacques Mans, 18, were granted very low bail at the Swartruggen’s magistrate’s court on April 18 2007. Pronk and Mans were relesed on R5,000 bail each, while De Koker was granted R10,000 bail. Police say Eric Calitz, the victim, was allegedly ‘assaulted to death’ during so-called “game ranger” training in Swartruggens in January. In a statement issued by the office of the national police commissioner, police confirmed they suspect “the paramilitary-style training presented on the course was not normal ranger training and this forms a key part of the investigation”. Police are also probing the death of another man who reportedly died during the same training session. — http://www.dispatch.co.za/2007/03/21/SouthAfrica/camp.html
The late Mr Calitz’s sister, Mathilda Groenewald, was informed he had died as a result of bleeding on the brain. A devastated Groenewald and her husband Henno spoke to The Star, saying that Calitz was very ‘impressionable, slightly brain damaged and struggled to keep down a job because he was born slightly brain-damaged after he was born too early. “He was hit, burnt and wounded,” Groenewald said. “It’s beyond sick – it’s psychopathic.”Another youth, 19-year-old Nicolaas van der Walt, also died at the camp. Groenewald claims he was beaten and had a car seatbelt tied around his neck before being dragged “from the lake to the camp”.
Calitz’s murder, Groenewald said, was sparked by his asking De Koker if he could quit the camp.
‘What did Eric do to deserve this?’
‘You aren’t a moffie…’
“Alex (de Koker) told him (Calitz) that he wasn’t a moffie (gay) and he would make a man out of him.”
Groenewald said her brother was a “miracle baby” who was born three months premature, died in the incubator and was brought back to life. This, unfortunately, had left him brain damaged and he never finished school. She recalled that the only jobs her brother could keep were basic security guard ones where he would earn about R1,500 a month. According to Groenewald, Van der Walt could afford the camp entrance fee of R10,000 — but her brother could not. He arranged to work off the debt and signed a two-year contract. He had been lured in by their brother Brian Calitz, 31, who was working as an instructor in the camp. Brian is now co-operating with the police. “When they went to the camp, their cellphones were confiscated. He just disappeared,” Groenewald said.
Police will have to investigate how these deaths were declared natural.. SAPF spokeswoman Sally de Beer’
Calitz’s mother, according to Groenewald, is shattered and is undergoing counselling. She said the family suspected the camp was a recruitment centre for the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging’s Ystergarde (Iron Guard). “It is suspected that the paramilitary-style training presented on this course was not normal ranger training and this forms a key part of the investigation,” said police spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer. De Koker, 43, had been advertising the training camps since the middle of last year, police said. The business was operating from a Vereeniging farm. Although they won’t confirm it, police will now have to investigate how it came to be that the deaths were declared natural. “Every aspect of the deaths will be thoroughly investigated,” was all De Beer was willing to say.
Suspects arrested without any weapons on them:
It is understood that about 13 people were involved in running the training camp, including Bianca Pronk and Jacques Mans, who were arrested with De Koker. The trainees were taught various military skills, such as leopard crawling, and were conditioned to walk and run long distances. Part of their training was apparently a two-day vasbyt (endurance march). Police detectives from the national Violent Organised Crimes Unit swooped in on their suspects the weekend before last. De Koker and Pronk were arrested in East London on Friday night while Mans was apprehended on a farm near Henderson, in the Eastern Cape. “He (De Koker) was very surprised,” the source said. None of the suspects resisted arrest and no weapons were found in their possession. Pronk and Mans were released on R5,000 bail the following Monday while De Koker remained behind bars. On Tuesday, despite the state objecting, he was released on bail. He wasn ordered not to leave Gauteng and not to apply for a passport.
AWB wants to sue training camp organiser Alex de Koker
Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Steyn van Ronge wants to sue Alex de Koker (left), who runs the controversial ‘game-warden training camp’ where 15-year-old Raymond Buys emerged in such emaciated, abused condition that he died in a Vereeniging hospital on Wednesday, April 21 2011.
Van Ronge accused De Koker of deliberately discrediting the AWB by using the organisation’s logos and flags to lure people to his training camp – but that the AWB have nothing to do with this and that De Koker isn’t even a member.
Van Ronge is livid, telling Sondag that he issued those cards all by himself and is demonising the AWB. ‘We don’t even know anything about all these things Ronge told to Sondag. We are talking to our attorneys to undertake legal action against him. “He is linking our organisation to his criminal behaviour and this is just rubbish.’ http://www.sondag.co.za/artikels/Nuus/AWB-wil-Alex-hof-toe-vat-