School boy drowns at orientation camp in Brits, North West
Parktown Boys’ High School pupil, Enoch Mpianzi, 13, tragically died during a grade 8 orientation camp on Wednesday 15 January 2020. It is believed that Enoch and some other boys were on a make-shift raft which overturned on the Crocodile River in the North West. Enoch’s body was only found on Friday morning, 17 January 2020, by South African Police Services (SAPS) search-and-rescue teams. Mpianzi’s parents, who are unemployed refugees, said they were asked to provide a life jacket for their son. However, having had to already borrow R800 to fund his school trip, they could not afford this added expense. It was also reported that his parents said they were not too worried about the life jacket as they were under the impression that the water activities would be taking place in a controlled and supervised environment.
TheSouthAfrican also pointed out some fatal blunders surrounding the orientation camp in a report on Friday 17 January 2020. These include:
Considering the remote location of the camp and the ferocity of the Crocodile River, parents of the pupils claim that their children were not allowed to take their cellphones along.
No immediate search was launched after Mpianzi was swept away on Wednesday. Previous reports stated that he was only found to be missing during roll-call on Thursday morning when the Parktown Boys’ trip organisers made contact with the authorities. This was, however, later contradicted by a boy who was seated next to Mpianzi on their way to the camp. According to Mpianzi’s family, this young boy said he was the first to raise the alarm that Enoch was missing after the boys had returned from the activity.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who accompanied the parents during the search-and-rescue operations, has told the media during a visit to the school on Friday that the death would be investigated. “I was not briefed on whether the people that assisted the children and the children themselves had life jackets or given a water safety talk, so that part of the information was not provided to me.” The MEC also said he was struggling to understand “the timeline of events”. “From where I am, it’s been difficult to explain what happened. The principal of Parktown Boys indicated that the incident had happened on Wednesday but we were only informed about it yesterday [Thursday]. I am very concerned about all other camps in the province. I don’t doubt that the school wanted to make sure all children are safe. I doubt that they wanted the boy to drown. What is concerning is the timelines… When we suspended this camp, I had the feeling to issue a communique that all camps in the province must be cancelled.”
Lesufi noted this apparent time gap, saying he was only notified of the incident in the late hours of Thursday evening. “The timelines concern me,” Lesufi said, “Everyone indicated that, after that exercise, they were not aware that there is a learner that is missing. It’s only when they were doing the headcount that they realised that the numbers are not the same.”
The circumstances of the drowning and its aftermath are to be investigated, with a number of questions being raised about the so-called water activity.
Lesufi said an investigation would look into the reporting of the pupil’s disappearance and into safety measures taken before the 210 Grade 8 Parktown High learners took to the river. Teachers and camp officials will be questioned. Lesufi added, “When was the headcount conducted? And when did they realise that that headcount was incomplete and who communicated what and when? There is also the issue of the raft. Those two are serious matters.”
Source: Daily Maverick and The South African