This is what the law firm appointed to probe Enock’s drowning will be looking for

Johannesburg – Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Friday announced that the department had appointed the Harris, Nupen and Molebatsi law firm to conduct an investigation into the death of Enock Mpianzi, a 13-year-old Parktown Boys High School pupil who drowned at the Nyati Bush and River Break camp last week.

The MEC said investigators were conducting an inspection in loco at the North West camp on Friday, and attorneys representing the camp had allowed them onto the premises. 

He said they were also tasked with finding out exactly what happened during the drowning last Wednesday afternoon. 

He said the department took the decision to appoint the law firm so it could uncover and answer many unanswered questions and “inconsistencies” that had emerged since the pupil drowned. 

One of these relates to the possible gross negligence of teachers. 

The Star reported this week that none of the seven teachers who had accompanied the pupils to the camp were anywhere near the river when Enock drowned. 

The newspaper reported the teachers had been allegedly playing games at the time of the pupils difficulties in the river. It also reported that a teacher had forgotten the roll-call list on the bus, leading to uncertainty among teachers about exactly how many pupils were on the trip, and uncertainty about whether had been a drowning, or not.

A young pupil has also spoken out in the press, saying he had informed teachers that Enock was missing after a makeshift raft the pupils had made, capsized in the river. 

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Friday that the department did not want to take collective action against Parktown Boys High teachers who were at the camp, but instead, they wanted to take action against those who had a case to answer. Video: Sihle Mlambo

At the press briefing, Lesufi, who admitted to briefly speaking to the teachers last Friday during the search for Enock’s body, was asked if he had established where the teachers were at the time of the drowning. 

He said: “Yes I spoke to the teachers. My first mandate was to comfort the family and the teachers were there. Some of the teachers were there as well to show support. Our interest at the time was to find Enock, so we did not ask those questions”. 

In announcing the appoint of the law firm, Lesufi announced the terms of reference for the investigation. 

Lesufi has tasked the law firm to thus establish the following:  

• Whether there are merits to the allegations and all the circumstances surrounding them.

• The conduct of any educator(s), school Management team and the principal in the reported case. 

• Whether the school followed a correct process in embarking on the Camp.

• Was the camp authorized, what procedure was followed by the school or SGB in deciding to take the learners to the camp. 

• What was the obligation of the camp/lodge in relation to the safety of learners in the premises and what guarantees did the camp have in ensuring the safety of learners.

• Does the school insurance cover this type of activity. 

• When did the educators and camp management realise that the learner was missing, and what procedure was followed by the school to report the missing learner. 

• Whether the matter was reported to the department, whether the department is liable in any way or not, whether there was any omission on the part of the department and what can the department do to address the problem.

• Whether there is a general problem of this nature at the school. The role, if any, of the SGB in this case.

• Whether counselling was provided or not and whether it is necessary to provide it now.

Lesufi said the investigators had been given a wide scope to enable them to ascertain the facts about Enock’s drowning.

“Our primary goal and ultimate resolution remains to unearth the truth. We are motivated by the desire of helping all those who are affected by this tragedy to come to terms with this sad reality and find closure, but more importantly to ensure that incidents like this are avoided,” he said.

Lesufi also said he would not be shy to share the contents of the investigation with the South African Human Rights Commission and EFF-appointed lawyers, who were helping the family with the matter. 

“All of us want the truth, the SAHRC, the legal team for the EFF, we want the same thing. The head of department wrote to the SAHRC and we said we will hand over any reports when they are finalised, we will hand them over to the families. 

“When all these reports are finalised, we will give to the families and they must exercise their options. We have a legal team that doesn’t want to fight for the sake of fighting. We are not hard, we are not difficult, we are open minded,” said Lesufi. 


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