Three teens labelled ‘gay and effeminate’ have died after being starved and tortured at a camp designed to turn them into ‘men’.

Raymond Buys

The picture above shows 15-year-old Raymond Buys in April 2011 as an undernourished, withered figure that seems to be clinging to life.

Buys’ parents, ten weeks previously, had enrolled him at the Echo Wild Game Rangers training course in South Africa in perfect health.

Upon his admittance to hospital, Buys was severely malnourished, dehydrated, his arm was broken in two places and there were burns and wounds covering his body. He stayed in intensive care for four weeks but his wounds were too severe and he died.

Alex De Koker and Michael Erasmus, Camp Leader & Assistant, are on trial for murder as well as child abuse and neglect. They have also been charged with two cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Buys.

Better man

‘I sent my son on this course to make him a better man, to give him a better future,’ Buys’ mother said. ‘I trusted Alex De Koker with his life.’

Buys was enrolled at the camp on 12 January 2011. Throughout the two months he was there, she claims to have only spoken to him three times and was told by 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”

Torture

Gerhard Oostuizen, 19, shared a tent with Buys. He told the court Buys was chained to his bed each night and was denied access to a toilet. He went on to say that Buys was also forced to eat his own excrement. The boys would be beaten with planks, hosepipes and sticks when they failed to carry out manual labour tasks, he claims.

Oostuizen also mentioned in court that De Koker tied Buys to a chair, naked, and covered his head in a pillowcase. He claimed that he would be electrocuted with a stun gun, ‘He screamed … I was scared and ran away,’.

Previous abuse

Four years prior to this case, Eric Calitz, 18, and Nicolaas Van Der Walt, 19, both died after being enrolled at the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp.

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 were 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 bleeding from the brain.

In 2007, 25-year-old Erich Calitz died from severe brain injuries, according to Afrikaans newspaper Rapport. Also that year, 19-year-old Nicholas van der Walt died at the same training camp. It was claimed he died from a heart attack, but doctors said he had appeared to have been choked with a seatbelt.

Not guilty

Melanie Nathan, gender activist, has said the three young men were all perceived as ‘gay and clearly effeminate’. Nathan also said of the ‘gay conversion camps’ that ‘with a little bit of digging, the gay reparative undertones start to emerge.’

De Koker and Erasmus have pleaded not guilty to the charges.