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Owner of camp accused of starving, torturing, killing gay teens defends himself

Owner of camp accused of starving, torturing, killing gay teens defends himself

The man behind a South African ‘gay cure’ camp has insisted he is not the reason behind the death of a 15-year-old boy.

A picture of Raymond Buys, 15, taken in April 2011 showed a skeletal, emaciated figure fighting for his life.

Just 10 weeks before, the teen’s parents signed him up to the Echo Wild Game Rangers training course in South Africa in perfect health.

In hospital, Buys was severely malnourished, dehydrated, his arm was broken in two places and there were burns and wounds all over his body. He lay in intensive care for four weeks until he died.

Echo Wild Game Rangers camp owner Alex de Koker and employee Michael Erasmus are facing charges of murder, child abuse, neglect and assault with intent to cause serious injury.

The camp, in which two other boys had previously died, promised parents to ‘turn boys into men’. The trial has now gone on for three years.

According to SAPA, De Koka told the Vereeniging Regional Court all of Buys’ injuries were self-inflicted or caused by fights with another boy at the camp.

He claimed he changed the teen to a bed because he ‘heard a rumor that he wanted to commit suicide.’

He says he was concerned about Buys’ well-being and ‘recorded conversations’ with him. According to De Koker’s own son, however, these were staged by the camp owner to cover up the abuse.

De Koker has denied the murder charge, calling it a ‘blatant lie’.

‘Yes, I was negligent. There are a lot of things I neglected to do,’ he said.

In testimony heard last year by one of Buys’ camp mates, they said Buys was chained to his bed every night, was refused permission to visit the toilet and on one occasion was forced to eat his own faeces.

He also said he would be beaten with planks, hosepipes and sticks when he failed to carry out manual labor tasks.

The 19-year-old alleged further he saw De Koker tied Buys to a chair naked with his head covered in a pillowcase, and would electrocute him with a stun gun.

Eric Calitz, 18, and Nicolaas Van Der Walt, 19, had both died after being enrolled at the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp four years earlier.

When Calitz requested to leave, De Koker reportedly told him he ‘wasn’t a moffie [gay] and he would make a man out of him’.

Calitz’s family was informed of his death via text message, saying he had died of a heart attack.

Afterwards, doctors said the cause of death was from a seizure, dehydration and found bleeding from the brain.

Van Der Walt was also claimed to have died from a heart attack, but doctors said he had appeared to have been choked with a seatbelt.

In 2009, De Koker was handed a suspended sentence over Calitz but escaped charges for the death of Van Der Walt, and the camp was allowed to continue.

Both De Koker and Erasmus have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The case continues.