South Africa: Enoch Mpianzi Death - Gauteng Education Dept Appoints Private Law Firm to Lead Probe

The Gauteng Department of Education has appointed an independent law firm, Harris Nupen Molebatsi Inc, to investigate Enoch Mpianzi's death, due to inconsistencies in "alleged facts" surrounding the turn of events at the camp.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi held a media briefing on Friday morning, where he gave updates on the developments of the case surrounding Mpianzi's death. He said the probe into the teen's death was "well underway".

The 13-year-old drowned while attending a Grade 8 orientation camp at Nyati Bush and River Break lodge near Brits in North West.

He was last seen when a makeshift raft he and other boys were on overturned on the Crocodile River, just hours after arriving at the camp. His body was found last Friday.

Lesufi said the investigating team had already inspected several documents and were currently in the process of interviewing all stakeholders to compile information about the camp.

Lesufi said the investigation was being conducted with urgency, although no pressure would be put on witnesses, including lodge staff, teachers, parents and pupils who attended the camp.

Lesufi listed eight focus areas of the investigation:

Whether there are merits to the allegations and all the circumstances surrounding the allegations;

The conduct of any teachers, school management team and the principal, Malcolm Williams, in the reported case;

Whether the school followed the right processes in embarking on the camp;

What procedure was followed by the school or School Governing Body in deciding to take pupils to the camp;

What was the obligation of the lodge concerning the safety of pupils at the premises and what guarantees did the lodge have in ensuring their safety;

Whether the school has insurance cover for water-related types of activities;

When did the teachers and camp management realise that Mpianzi was missing, and what procedure was followed by the school to report the missing boy? and;

Whether the department of education was liable in any way.

Lesufi said the scope of the probe was broad and urged that it be expedited.

He added that the primary goal of the department was 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."

On Friday, the investigating team visited the lodge to conduct an inspection. The department said it had directed the team to also interact with the owners of the lodge to get further clarity concerning the turn of events the day Mpianzi drowned.

Source: News24

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