It is a week later and the sound of water traumatises him.
He has not showered since returning from the camp and does not want to speak out because he was told not to do so.
Witnessing Enock Mpianzi “struggling” in a river before being swept away, has left one of the last boys to see him shocked into silence.
*Lizo Mnguni (not his real name) was one of at least two boys who tried to alert Parktown Boys’ High teachers that Mpianzi had been swept away when their self-made raft capsized in the Crocodile River in Brits in North West last week, but he claims no one listened.
Mnguni has detailed how he met Mpianzi, as well as the moments during and after he fell into the river during a team-building exercise at Nyati Bush and Riverbreak lodge.
He had made friends with Mpianzi from the time they boarded the bus at the Johannesburg school and was in the same group as Mpianzi during the water activity.
He spotted Mpianzi standing alone and approached him with another boy to introduce themselves. They “instantly formed a bond”.
The pupil claims there were no teachers present at the river, “only us Grade 8 boys, the school prefects and the camp facilitators”.
Mnguni said the stretcher capsized soon after they got into the water and the boys scrambled to grab onto the parts that came loose.
Tried to raise the alarm
“At that moment, I felt like I was going to die.”
He added: “Enock did NOT manage to get to the rubber tube… He seemed stuck in one place, trying to keep his head above water. I grabbed a pole and tried to pass it to Enock. But… I couldn’t reach him… The river swept him away.”
Mnguni said when roll call was done after the incident, he and his friend were ignored when they tried to raise the alarm that Mpianzi was last seen struggling in the river.
The boy’s mother, who cannot be named to protect his identity, says he’s been stunned into silence.
“My son can’t take a shower. He has not showered since he came back from the camp because the sound of water traumatises him. My son doesn’t want to open up and talk openly about this because the principal told him that he mustn’t speak to anyone.”
The boy’s account of what happened aired on Radio 702 on the Eusebius McKaiser Show on Wednesday morning.
News24 reported on Saturday that the boy was the first to raise the alarm that Mpianzi was missing after the pupils had returned from the activity, Mpianzi’s uncle Sebastian Kodiemoka said.
Since returning from the camp following the tragic death of his friend, Mnguni has not been the same, his mother told News24.
“Enock could easily have been my son, so I feel let down by the school. We chose Parktown Boys’ High because it’s paraded as a good school,” said the emotional parent.
She said the school had written to parents and outlined that the camp was compulsory and provided indemnity forms, which they signed, but the very same school “neglected their children”.
‘The teachers were not there’
She said the school was “grossly negligent” and had showed bad behaviour in dealing with the matter. She added that it was unacceptable that parents had handed over their children to the school and the school then handed the pupils to camp facilitators the parents didn’t know.
“The time they were going to the river, the teachers were not there. They were with camp facilitators and I didn’t hand my son to facilitators I don’t know. I handed my son to a school I’ve enrolled him at. I feel like they really did not care about our children.”
The woman said her son was a caring boy which is why he had approached Enock when he was standing alone.
She said she was now dealing with the well-being of her son following his traumatic experience.
“My son is unable to even cry now and I don’t know what long-term effects that will have for him,” the mother said.
The Parktown Boys’ High’s school governing body issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying it was “utterly committed to ensuring Enoc[h] and the Mpianzi family receive the justice they deserve”.
The school and the governing body had pledged their “absolute support and commitment” to the Gauteng Education Department and the police in their investigation into the boy’s death.
“The Parktown Alumni have launched a fundraising campaign to support the long-term needs of the family,” read the statement.