Enoch Mpianzi, the 13-year-old Parktown Boys’ High School Grade 8 pupil who drowned at the Nyati Bush and River Break lodge during an orientation camp, was the fifth child to die at the notorious lodge since 1999, Sunday Times reported.
Mpianzi disappeared when a makeshift raft he and other boys were on overturned on the Crocodile River on January 15.
His body was found two days later after other pupils allegedly repeatedly warned camp facilitators that Mpianzi had last been seen struggling in the water and that he had gone missing, but were ignored.
According to Sunday Times, Grade 8 Northview High School pupil Portia Sowela, 14, drowned in the river while on a sports camp in 1999.
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has suspended Parktown Boys’ headmaster Malcolm Williams following the tragic death of 13-year-old Enoch Mpianzi at a school camp.
Like Mpianzi, she was swept away by river currents during a water activity. And similarly, no one reportedly realised she was missing and her body was only found the following day.
Mellony Sias, 18, from Adamantia High School in Kimberley, drowned in the river at Nyati during a camp of his school’s hockey team, EWN reported.
His drowning was confirmed by the school as well as someone who was involved in a search-and-rescue mission that tried to locate Sias at the time.
Sunday Times further revealed that Grade 10 Malvern High School pupil Thuso Moalusi, 17, drowned in the lodge’s dam, not the river.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Adele Myburgh told that publication that Moalusi had drowned in 2002 “while taking part in an obstacle course at the dam during the Nyati marathon activity”.
Lastly, Grade 6 Welgedag Primary School pupil Tumi Mokowane, 12, reportedly drowned in the lodge swimming pool in September 2009. Like Mpianzi, he was missing for hours before the alarm was raised about his disappearance.
Myburgh told Sunday Times that no one was found liable following inquests into the deaths.
Last week, the Gauteng Department of Education appointed an independent law firm, Harris Nupen Molebatsi Inc, to investigate Mpianzi’s death, due to inconsistencies in “alleged facts” surrounding the turn of events at the camp, News24 reported.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi held a media briefing on Friday morning, where he gave updates on the developments of the case surrounding Mpianzi’s death. He said the probe into the teen’s death was “well under way”.
A preliminary report by the department has found that the Grade 8 orientation camp was not approved by the district and head offices.
Parktown Boys’ High School principal Malcolm Williams was suspended on Friday.
Lesufi said: “We have concluded that the principal of the school is the delegated authority with the responsibility for the safety of our pupils in schools. We have taken a decision to immediately suspend the principal of Parktown Boys and to serve him with a suspension letter in order for the investigation to proceed without hindrance.”
His suspension followed a public outcry for Williams to be axed after some accused the school of negligence in the Grade 8 pupil’s death.