Water polo coach sues for reputational damage
Former Gqeberha water polo coach David Mackenzie, publicly accused of molesting a teenage pupil, now wants the father of the boy who took his own life to cough up R30m, reports HeraldLIVE.
The latest court action is a counterclaim to Mill Park businessman Charl Kruger’s R62m lawsuit against Mackenzie and St Andrew’s College, whom he accused of failing to act on suspicions that young Thomas was being sexually groomed.
In papers filed with the Eastern Cape High Court (Gqeberha) this week, Mackenzie accused Kruger of leaking privileged information to the media.
He said as a result of the allegations – for which he was never criminally tried – he was unable to find employment and had suffered a number of personal setbacks.
The NPA had declined to prosecute.
Kruger said: ‘We believe Mr Mackenzie’s counterclaim is wholly without merit and will be rejected by the courts.'
Mackenzie had coached Thomas at the prestigious all-boys school in Makhanda prior to the then-16-year-old hanging himself from the school’s sanatorium window on 18 November 2018.
The counterclaim centres on the My Only Story podcast which aired in late 2021. The podcast had detailed the alleged events leading up to Thomas’ tragic death.
Mackenzie’s legal team claims the podcaster had made use of privileged information from the police docket which was compiled when the allegations of sexual grooming and abuse emerged.
In November 2022, Kruger, his wife Elizabeth, and their younger son, instituted a civil claim against Mackenzie, St Andrews, where Mackenzie was also a deputy house master, former headmaster Alan Thompson, and the SA Council for Educators, among others.
While the school indicated at the time that it would defend the court action, Mackenzie has also asked for it to be dismissed with costs.
The married father had gone on to teach at Reddam House Bedfordview, but was dismissed for being dishonest about his past.
According to court documents, podcast listeners were left with the impression that Mackenzie was a person of low moral standing, that he was a paedophile, had sexually and mentally abused schoolboys, and that he was a predatory person who became a teacher so that he could have easy access to children.
Taking all of this into account, he said, people had come to the conclusion that he was responsible for Thomas’ death.
Mackenzie’s attorney Danie Gouws said further civil action was pending against several other parties and that summonses were in the process of being served by the sheriff of the court, reports HeraldLIVE.
The Kruger family believe Thomas hanged himself because of depression caused by Mackenzie who, they allege, had sexually groomed and abused their son and other boys at the school.
However, Mackenzie has hit back, adamant that Thomas had suffered from long-standing depression for which he had been prescribed medication which he never took.
Mackenzie vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying he had never sexually groomed, molested or enticed Thomas or any other pupil to engage in ill-disciplined conduct while under his care.
The Krugers, meanwhile, said in their court papers that Thomas had been a fun-loving, content child.
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.