‘I grabbed a pole and tried to pass it to Enock but I couldn’t reach him. The river swept him away,’ says the eyewitness.
Testimony from a grade 8 pupil who witnessed first hand what happened to the deceased Parktown Boys High School learner Enock Mpianzi has become the latest piece of publically available evidence in the on-going investigation into what happened after the learner drowned.
The learner’s testimony was read out by an EWN journalist Mihlali Ntsabo during the Wednesday edition of the Eusebius McKaiser radio show on 702.
According to the learner in question, he and a friend of his – identified only as Solly – befriended a lonely-looking Mpianzi on the school grounds shortly before they left for the camp. They were then introduced to Mpianzi’s father before getting on to the bus.
The learner insists that no roll call was done at this point. Upon arriving at the camp, the learner says they got straight into their first group activity of building a stretcher from sticks after being divided into groups. The witness was on the same group as Mpianzi.
They were then told to participate in a challenge with the stretchers and their activity was supervised only by prefects from the school and camp facilitators. Once again, no roll call was done.
Thereafter, they did the raft challenge and the pupil insists that neither he nor his parents were asked to provide their own life jackets prior to the trip, nor were they provided any life jackets before the water activity that saw Mpianzi lose his life. Prefects simply asked who could and could not swim and those who identified themselves as being able to swim were told the get into the river.
According to the learner, he and his fellow group members witnessed Mpianzi fall off the raft and struggle to keep his head above water after they themselves struggled to stay above water in the rough currents.
“I grabbed a pole and tried to pass it to Enock but I couldn’t reach him. The river swept him away,” he added.
They said they tried to call for help from the school’s prefects and camp facilitators to no avail.
After the activity, they were taken back to the lodge via a thorny trail for their next activity. That is when the day’s first roll call was done.
The eyewitness said this was when his friend first tried to mention Enock’s disappearance and he told them about their near-death experience at the river but they were both summarily dismissed.
The learners were then taken to their next activity, which was a cooking activity.
“I told my friend Solly how worried I was about not having seen Enock since the river. We then approached a camp facilitator to tell him that Enock was missing. The facilitator was rude and dismissed us. The second role call was done in the evening at dinner time, Enock was still not there,” stated the eyewitness.
When the pair of boys brought up his disappearance again, the eyewitness was told that perhaps Enock was in another cabin and had left their group.
“I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept hearing wild sounds and worrying if Enock was alright,” he added.
The camp’s activities continued the next morning with an obstacle course and swimming in the pool.
“In the morning on Thursday 16 January, a roll call was done and Enock was still not there. The teacher said he thinks Enock did not come to the camp.”
“Solly and I went to the teacher and told her Enock was definitely at the camp, and that the last time we saw him was at the river.”
Thereafter, a facilitator went to the river with a life jacket to look for Enock while the camp activities continued.
After lunch, there was another roll call at the hall before camp activities continued.
At dinner, the eyewitness’s group was called forward by an unidentified facilitator who showed them a picture of Enock and asked them if they had seen him. The eyewitness then told her that he was with him during the first afternoon of the camp.
According to the witness, the female facilitator then took him and two other boys to a different building to be interviewed by police.
“Before we left the lodge, the headmaster addressed us and emphasized that we must not speak to anyone. Later that day, I heard the news that my new friend was no longer alive.”