Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-Gay “Conversion Camp” Allegedly Tortures Effeminate Teenage Boy to Death

Raymond Buys, 15, near death from the ravages of an anti-gay conversion camp.

Raymond Buys, 15, near death from the ravages of an anti-gay conversion camp.

Johannesburg, South Africa – “Man Up or Die.”  That is the way an international human rights advocate characterizes the philosophy of an ex-gay conversion camp radically committed to “beating the gay” out of boys with “feminine traits.”  South African born activist, Melanie Nathan reports in her blog that 15-year-old Raymond Buys died as a consequence of torture and starvation allegedly imposed on him at a three-month “training course” at Echo Wild Game Rangers Camp, located an hour south of Johannesburg.  Esteemed British newspaper, The Telegraph, confirms that Buys is one of three young men whose deaths are being blamed on Alex de Koker, 49, Echo Wild’s director, and his accomplice, Michael Erasmus, 20.  Both of the accused are in custody awaiting trial under 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.” Scott De Buitléir, a blogger for Elie, reports that de Koker has claimed to be innocent of the charges.

Young Mr. Buys, who suffered from a learning disability, was sent to Echo Wild to help him become more masculine by his mother, Wilna Buys, in January 2011.  His mother says she spoke to her son three times during the training camp, allowed to speak with him only on speakerphone so their conversation could be monitored.  De Koker claimed young Buys was “self-harming.”  When his mother asked him to explain what prompted his self-injuries, the youth denied that he was doing these things to himself, as she later told the court.  It remains unclear why Mrs. Buys did not act at that time to withdraw her child from the training course, an expensive proposition at $2,000 per month. Two months into the three-month-long course, which turned out to be a full blown ex-gay, reparative therapy boot camp, Mr. Buys lay dying in hospital.  He allegedly had been beaten until his arm was broken multiple times, electrocuted with a taser-like device, chained to his bed and not released to use a bathroom, starved until he was severely dehydrated and emaciated, forced to eat his own feces and laundry detergent, and hit until his skull was cracked and his brain was damaged.  Hospital officials told that he had a “zero chance” of survival. Within two weeks, The Telegraph reports, the teenager died.  “My child was a skeleton,” Mrs. Buys told the Vereeniging District Court. ”He had head injuries and torn ears, there were bruises on his face and arms and cigarette burns on his body.”

Two other young men, 25-year-old Erich Calitz and Nicolas Van Der Walt, 19, also died of brain injuries allegedly inflicted at the camp, according to the Huffington Post.  Alex de Koker, also the chief suspect in the deaths of Mr. Calitz and Mr. Van Der Walt, had reassured Mrs. Buys that he could help her boy become a man and find a good job in the wildlife service.  De Koker’s ties to a rightwing white supremacist homophobic group called the AWB/Iron Guards movement are being investigated.

The sexual orientation of the three young victims of these heinous anti-gay crimes has never been definitively established.  But, as Melanie Nathan points out, any young man who exhibits “feminine characteristics” in Afrikaans culture is considered to be a “moffie,” an epithet akin to “faggot.”  Ms. Nathan explains, “The idea of the [Echo Wild] camp is to apparently make men of teens and to ‘cure’  ‘feminine traits’ in male youths…another way of saying gay reparative therapy, instead in this instance that therapy involved ‘beating the gay out of the kid’– torture, and if torture didn’t effect the desired change, then certainly murder would; after all a dead teen is not a gay teen.” 

Mrs. Buys told The Telegraph, “I trusted Alex de Koker with the life of my child.”  Whether wittingly or unwittingly, she turned her son over to a virulently, homophobic group for a “cure.”  And it cost the boy his life.

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Anti-Gay Hate Groups, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, AWB/Iron Guards Movement, Beatings and battery, Burning and branding, Ex-gay conversion camp, gay teens, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, South Africa, Torture and Mutilation, Uncategorized, White supremacist groups | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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