Negligence on the part of Parktown Boys High School teachers, principal, school governing body and owners of Nyathi Bush and River Break Lodge led to the tragic death of that school’s pupil, Enock Mpianzi. This was revealed in a forensic report into the tragic death of the Grade 8 pupil in January, who had just joined the prestigious Johannesburg-based school.
Mpianzi drowned in the Crocodile River during his new school’s orientation camp on 15 January in Brits in the North West province, when a makeshift raft he and his fellow Grade 8 learners built overturned in the river. The forensic investigation report compiled by Peter Harris of Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys, recommends that both Parktown Boys’ High School and Nyati Bush Lodge be held liable for Mpianzi’s death. Among the key reckless and negligent acts that the report found was that:
• The roll call list was mistakenly left in the bus that transported the learners to Brits, but immediately returned to Johannesburg after dropping them off.
• Nyati lodge only had 12 life jackets for 204 learners. • 80% of the pupils had already proceeded down the river when the teachers arrived late where the activity was taking place.
• None of the boys had been pulled out of the river to stop them from a point they were not meant to pass. “We find that there’s negligence on the part of the school for not having roll call and that the educators should be held accountable.
If the correct roll call list had been used, they would have realized 18 hours earlier that a boy had been missing,” said Harris as he released the report in a parents’ meeting. Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, said the report also found that the school trip was not authorised by his department.
And now the Mpianzi family is considering taking legal steps against both the Department of Education and Parktown Boys High School.
The family’s lawyer, Ian Levitt, said his client would as early as next week serve summons on several implicated parties. “We’re starting to prepare the summons and a letter of demand has to go out to the MEC because when you institute action against government, you have to give them 30 days’ notice,” Levitt said. Lesufi said it was a painful process to go through the report “but we have to soldier on.
“After reading such a report it becomes difficult to be normal again,” he said. The Mpianzi forensic report also conformed that four other learners died in the lodge from as far back as 1999. The report has been handed to the police.