The Gauteng Department of Education instructed Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys to conduct an investigation into the death of Parktown Boys High school learner due to drowning at orientation camp in Nyati Lodge, North West. A 13-year-old boy Enock Mpianzi was enrolled in Grade 8 at the school.
The Grade 8 learners were invited to attend an orientation camp so that they can learn new skills such as team work and cooperation. During the course of the afternoon on 15 January 2020, the first day of the camp Enock Mpianzi tragically drowned in Crocodile River, his body was found on Wednesday 17 January 2020 two days later. The boys then sailed the raft across the Crocodile River where it capsized, witnesses confirmed that they saw Enock and a number of other learners struggling in the water.
The report revealed that the evidence given by the interviewees confirm that leaners were instructed to enter the river and that there were no facilitators deployed to stop them from entering the river from the shallow water. There were clearly insufficient controls to ensure the care and safety of the learners; it is found that Nyati Lodge had no adequate safety precaution.
According to Harris, educators were just as negligent as Nyati as roll call was taken only at the school hall before the boys departed for the camp. Harris revealed that the roll call list was left on the bus and the bus driver returned to Johannesburg with it. No roll call could be taken before the first activity. The camp then tried to get the school to send a list, but they sent the wrong one.
Harris says the report is clear. “So we find that there’s negligence on the part of the school for not having the accurate and correct roll call list of all attendees at that camp, and that the relevant educators should be held responsible and charged and that includes the headmaster as the ultimate commander in chief or the CEO of the school. The fact is that, if the correct roll call list had been used they would have realised 18 hours earlier that a boy was missing”
The report also found that teachers were negligent for failing to call off the river activity when they realised the learners had not been issued with life jackets.
Harris further stated that their findings are quite clearly. “Life jackets should have been issued to the learners. When we put that to Anton Knoetze the manager of the camp, he said ‘we only issue life jackets for people who go down the river and because this took place in shallow water, we didn’t think that they should have life jackets. But we know it didn’t take place in shallow water, we know it took place in the river. So we asked him how many life jackets he had at the camp? He said 12. Now there were 204 learners, we find that the camp was reckless in the extreme in allowing boys to go into the river in those conditions.”
Gauteng Department of Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said his department is working to have Nyati Lodge blacklisted as a venue for school activities.
“Police are investigating that aspect and unfortunately our investigators didn’t have access to the docket so we will wait for the police to come. We will give them the report as well and hopefully it will assist them to find what went wrong. There will be no school from Gauteng that will go there and that is why I am speaking to the Minister so that we can have this blacklisted. But we will act and I think as a department we would have failed in our responsibilities if we can’t act and act decisively.”