Parktown Boys’ High Grade 8 camp was unauthorised – Lesufi

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi speaks at the Gauteng department of education's press briefing on the Parktown Boys' High drowning debacle, 24 January 2020. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

A law firm was appointed by the department to probe the matter after inconsistencies and other details were brought to its attention.

As the probes into the tragic death of 13-year-old Enock Mpianzi get under way, a preliminary report by the Gauteng education department has found that the Grade 8 orientation camp of Parktown Boys’ High School was not approved by the district and head offices.

This was revealed by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Friday as he briefed the media on the preliminary findings following the death of the teenager at Nyati Bush and River Break lodge near Brits in North West last week.

Mpianzi drowned while participating in a water activity shortly after arriving at the camp last Wednesday. His body was discovered last Friday after a search which started on Thursday afternoon.

The preliminary findings come as an independent law firm, Harris Nupen Molebatsi Inc, investigates the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The law firm was appointed by the department to probe the matter after inconsistencies and other details were brought to its attention.

“We can now confirm that the school had made an application to the district to approve the trip. However, by the time the school embarked on the trip, the district and head office had not approved the trip, thus, making the trip an unauthorised activity,” Lesufi said.

The MEC also announced that the school’s headmaster Malcolm Williams had been handed a letter of precautionary suspension to allow investigations to continue without any obstructions. District officials who handled the school’s application for the trip will also be served with letters of precautionary suspension.

Lesufi said the department felt the officials had a case to answer regarding processing the application brought by Parktown Boys’ High School, which should also have required that all safety aspects of an application be adhered to.

The MEC said the law stated that if a school wanted to embark on a trip, it needed to apply three months beforehand. He said the school had submitted the application on November 19, 2019, which fell outside the required time limit for an application.

“Regardless of that, we believe the district officials that handle this kind of communiqué should have either notified the school or should have indicated to head office whether they should give permission for this trip to go ahead.

“It is in this regard that we have directed [that] all officials at district [level] who handled the file of application for the trip, be served with letters of immediate suspension as investigations are carried out.

“The School Governing Body (SGB) of the school will not escape our scrutiny. We will be guided by parents of the school later this evening on the kind of action we should take or not take,” the MEC said on Friday.

Lesufi added the investigation would scrutinise the school, department and SGB, and would be made available to the public once concluded.

With regards to the teachers who were present at the camp, the department is yet to establish who is under its employ and who is employed by the SGB.

The department was expected to hold a parent’s meeting on Friday at 18.00pm.

Lesufi has urged that investigations be expedited for closure in the case.

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