South Africa: Media Kicked Out of Meeting Between Lesufi and Parktown Boys' High Parents

The media has been kicked out of a heated meeting between Parktown Boys' High parents and Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

The meeting was called by Lesufi to brief parents on the latest developments.

Through a vote of hands, most parents called for the media to be removed from the meeting.

A few parents of former pupils at the school, who claimed that they had grievances to raise with Lesufi and the school, were also told to leave.

Lesufi's spokesperson Steve Mabona later addressed the media outside the hall at a Wits University's campus in Parktown.

Mabona said there was a need to understand the sensitivity of a probe which could reveal what led to the drowning of Grade 8 pupil Enoch Mpianzi during an orientation camp in Brits, North West.

He said, in previous cases that involved the school, including the matter where boys were abused by water polo assistant coach Collan Rex, parents didn't want the media's presence.

Last year, Rex was sentenced to 23 years in jail for sexual assault and common assault.

"Some parents raised the matter before this meeting could start and we could not ignore that. We asked parents if they will allow the media in their meeting. We need to respect that, because this is their meeting.

"We invited them to be briefed by the MEC on the latest developments. Some asked why we interacted with the media before consulting them. By respecting that we then had to consult them, which I think is fair," Mabona said.

A father of one of Rex's victims who was also kicked out of the meeting said, although he didn't have a child at the school, he wanted to raise his issues with the school governing body.

The father, who could not be named, accused Lesufi of deliberately refusing to release a report compiled by law firm Harris Nupen Molebatsi Inc, which probed reports of sexual abuse at the school.

Create awareness

"I am not happy about it. I am here to create awareness about how the department has historically dealt with our case. We reported a number of teachers for things that they shouldn't have done and [Harris Nupen Molebatsi Inc] found that the majority of our allegations were true."

"We found out that the department in all instances didn't act according to the way they should. They didn't hold people accountable. We were told by Lesufi that he would make the report available to us," the father said.

He claimed that they had not received the report and said parents of Rex's victims, wanted to know what it said.

Former SGB member Mitchell Kobkirk said she was concerned about the code of silence and that the media had been asked to leave the meeting.

"The meeting should be open and transparent. This (meeting) is to discuss the SGB who is responsible to enforce child safety. How did this child (Mpianzi) die?

"We know he drowned. Why did he die? The SGB needs to answer. Actually, we need a new SGB which is fresh, transparent, honest and non-captured," said Kobkirk.

She said Harris Nupen Molebatsi attorneys had found prima facie evidence against the school and that nothing was done.

She also blamed Lesufi for not making the report public.

"The same SGB that tried to cover that up is still there. How did the child die if your child safety policies had been put in place? We still haven't had proper explanation from the SGB as to how Mpianzi disappeared," Kobkirk said.

Source: News24

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