Social media was abuzz after video captured by a Sowetan staffer showed the mother of the deceased Parktown Boys High School learner Enoch Mpianzi being assisted to jump over the fence at Nyati Bush and Riverbreak Lodge near Brits in North West.
Antionette Mpianzi was, at the time, accompanied by members of her family and Buang Jones of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
After agreeing to assist Mpianzi’s family with getting the answers they needed about what really happened to their son, the SAHRC reached out to the owners of Nyati to request a meeting and site visit.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika journalists during a live broadcast earlier today, the SAHRC’s Jones stated that his office had initially been informed by a woman named Marlize that the had permission from the lodge’s unnamed owner to visit the lodge.
Upon arriving at the premises, they encountered a locked gate and were told that their permission to visit the site had been rescinded pending a meeting between the lodge’s owner and his lawyers.
According to Jones, the SAHRC then reached out to the police to intervene because there is a clause in the constitution that allows them as a Chapter 9 institution to gain access to such premises under any means necessary, as it is a crime scene.
Many on social media have weighed in after seeing the video.
Mpianzi drowned while taking part in a Parktown Boys High School Grade 8 orientation camp last week.
He went missing on Wednesday when a raft he was on overturned in the Crocodile River. His body was discovered on Friday.
Jones said the SAHRC stepped in to assist the boy’s family, pointing out that there were many unanswered questions about the circumstances of the boy’s death.
“We view this as an obstruction of the work of the SAHRC. It demonstrates an uncaring attitude on the part of Nyati Bush,” Jones said upon being denied entry to the premises.
He added that the commission was permitted to enter any premises and perform its functions in terms of Section 16 of the Commissions Act.
Jones emphasised that the lodge remained a crime scene until the police finalised its investigation and that they hoped the lodge would assist with the investigation.
The commission raised concerns after it discovered that it was not the first time a pupil had died at the lodge. It intended to bring this to the attention of the tourism department.
“Ten years ago there was a learner who also perished here. This is something that concerns us. We will also bring the conduct of Nyati Bush to the Department of Tourism because they are accredited.”
The police were expected to assist the commission with the inspection.
Jones said the owner’s behaviour suggested that the lodge was hiding information and that a subpoena would be issued if necessary.
“The gate is locked as you can see. It is really disheartening and it is something we really condemn in the strongest terms.”