Parktown Boys’ headmaster and SGB share their thoughts on the current court proceedings

Parktown Boys' High School discusses their thoughts on the current court proceedings. Photo: Sarah Koning

 

Bearing in mind the ongoing trial of former water polo coach Collan Rex, Parktown Boys’ School Governing Body (SGB) and new headmaster Malcolm Williams aim to continue to assist the school on a road to healing.

Williams addressed parents in a notice on 27 August stating that state prosecutor Advocate Persad indicated that the trial will not be as long as previously thought.

Rex pleaded guilty to 144 charges of sexual assault and not-guilty to a number of other charges.

“The various not-guilty pleas have unfortunately meant that a number of boys will be required to appear in court to testify,” said Williams.

” This will be most difficult for the boys and their families. We are keenly aware of the extra pressure… and we are sensitive to this.”

During a recent assembly, he called on all youngsters and staff to offer care and support to their peers.

Kim van Es, on behalf of the Parktown Boys’ SGB, agreed to meet with the Rosebank Killarney Gazette to share her thoughts on the situation at the school at present. “Prior to Mr William’s arrival [on 6 August], the morale at the school was very low. He has worked hard to communicate face-to-face with [learners] and staff on this difficult, traumatic and sensitive issue, including with parents and boys who have to testify.

“We understand the trauma involved, but this cannot be what defines us as a school, nor should it be the defining moment for the boys directly affected by the unacceptable acts which took place.”

She explained that Parktown Boys’ has been slagged off by other schools on the sports field during games which has proven to be very tough on the boys.

In response to allegations that the boys involved in the court case have been victimised, Van Es said, “We find it difficult to understand how particular boys could have been victimised if the identity of the boys is unknown. The school has respected the need for confidentiality to be maintained as best possible, given the circumstances. We as an SGB are prepared to take action against any and all acts of secondary victimisation against the boys involved in the Rex case, and encourage anyone with evidence to come forward.”

According to her, the school has not as yet conducted programmes, such as group counselling, with boys who were not directly involved in the case although the matter has been addressed in numerous assemblies. She could confirm that now that Williams has taken over, the school will implement effective programmes as part of the healing process. “If this was my child, I would want to ensure that justice was done and that the perpetrator would be brought to book in the most severe manner. Our sympathy and support go out to the boys and parents involved.”

The school has provided ongoing counselling to the boys involved and offered support to their parents too. The Guardian App has been set up so that children can anonymously report issues they feel strongly about. An intensive screening process has also been undertaken for new and existing employees and cameras have also been installed in classrooms.

The hostel alone has over 300 cameras installed. The school has also banned any form of initiation from taking place. Williams has engaged directly with Grade 11 and Grade 12 learners on this and is liaising with Luke Lamprecht of the Teddy Bear Clinic.

Williams said in the notice, “This process of healing will not take place overnight. There is no ‘quick fix’ when such trauma has been suffered, and which has impacted on these boys, their families, the staff, and on the broader school community. We hope that this trial runs its course in as short a time frame as possible, which will be in the best interest of the boys [and their families] who are requested to testify – it is their welfare that must be kept paramount at all times.”

Related articles:

#ICYMI: Former assistant water polo coach pleads guilty to 144 counts of sexual assault

Date for trial set for former Parktown Boys assistant water polo coach

WARNING SENSITIVE CONTENT: Mom alleges 32 Parktown boys were sexually assaulted

  AUTHOR
Sarah Koning

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