News & Politics

3 Teens Allegedly Starved, Tortured and Killed at Camp Meant to Make Them Straight, More "Masculine"

The teens died after they attended a camp meant to make them more conventionally masculine.

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Three South African teens have died after they attended a camp meant to make them more conventionally masculine. They were allegedly starved, tortured and beaten by employees who ran the Echo Wild Game Rangers training course in South Africa, the Gay Star News reports.

49-year-old Alex De Koker and his colleague, Michael Erasmus, are on trial on charges of murder, child abuse and neglect. They allegedly targeted the boys because they were perceived as gay and effeminate.

One of the dead boys is Raymond Buys, a 15-year-old. He attended the camp because his mother wanted “to make him a better man, to give him a better future,” she told The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper. But Buys was allegedly chained to his bed at night, refused permission to go to the bathroom and was forced to eat his own feces, according to the testimony of someone who attended the camp with Buys. The witness also said Buys was beaten if he failed to carry out a task.

The witness added that De Koker tied “Buys to a chair naked with his head covered in a pillowcase, and would electrocute him with a stun gun,” the Gay Star Newsreports.

Two other boys also died at the camp four years earlier. One of them, 18-year-old Eric Calitz, tried to leave the camp. De Koker told him that he wasn’t “a moffie [gay] and he would make a man out of him.” Calitz died, and his family was told it was due to a heart attack. But “doctors said the cause of death was from a seizure, dehydration and found bleeding from the brain,” according to the Gay Star News.

De Koker was handed a suspended sentence for the death of Calitz. He and his colleague have pleaded not guilty to the current charges.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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