The death of young Enock Mpianzi rightly exposed the recklessness and negligence of Parktown Boys’ High School management. Enock’s death shook the entire nation and one that will forever put a dent on the school’s image for years to come.
However, even before Enock’s death brought the school to public glare, Parktown Boys’ High School was already known for sexual crime stories that hogged the headlines a few years prior. A monster (yes I call him a monster) called Collan Rex terrorised, brutalized, sexually assaulted and broke many young boys at the school.
Rex was sentenced to an effective 23 years in prison after he was found guilty on counts of sexual abuse and common assault. His misdemeanours as Waterpolo coach at the school finally caught up with him.
In this thoroughly researched book called Brutal School Ties-The Parktown Boys’ Tragedy, respected author, Sam Cowen chronicles all these events that took place prior, during and after the arrest of this monster, Collan Rex.
She does this by interviewing the boys who were sexually assaulted by Rex, their parents, school’s officials, officials who were involved in the case, Rex’s family including his girlfriend and mom and finally, the monster himself.
Now, I need to first give credit to Sam. She has done a great job in giving all the parties a chance to state their side of the story, even though one could have easily decided to be biased in such an emotional case involving the sexual assault of minors.
Perusing throughout the pages, the professionalism of Sam is dominant throughout the book, as she follows all the journalistic protocols. She goes as far as seeking permission from parents to speak to the boys first and also hiding their true identities.
As a parent reading this book, I was shattered, depressed, confused and angry. I was angry at how Parktown Boys’ High School management and the School Governing Body allowed the culture of brutality, violence and sexual predation to thrive in the school system for years.
Boys have been violated, raped, molested, and destroyed emotionally under the school’s system and it had to take a young boy(call him Ben) to put an end to all of that by exposing Rex, who was himself a product of the school’s brutal system.
While this is not a book to open old wounds, especially for the victims and their families, however, this is one book that will make every parent think twice before sending their children to board at Parktown Boys’ High school or any boarding school for that matter, because this culture of bullying, brutality and sexual predation has been normalized in many boarding schools.
The urgency and importance of this book cannot be understated and every learner, parents and the entire society really need to read it, because it seems like our so-called ‘good schools’ have turned into brutalising spaces for our young souls.
As for Collan, accepting God in your life does not mean everyone should just forget about your sins like that, it means you should accept your sins fully and allow survivors of your horrific deeds find a place in their hearts to forgive you. This is a must-read book.