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Parents of drowned Parktown learner still waiting for answers
20 January 2020, 6:18 AM

The family of 13-year-old Enock Mpianzi says they are still waiting for answers from Parktown High School about the circumstances surrounding his death. The Grade 8 learner died last week while attending a school orientation camp in Brits, in the North West. His body was recovered at the Crocodile River on Friday.

It appears that Mpianzi may have been swept under water when a makeshift raft capsized in the river. Mpianzi’s father, Ekila Guy Intamba, says nobody is stepping up to account for his son’s death.

“We asked them questions, when and how this happened. The answer was “we can’t tell you more”. They didn’t answer our questions. I need a clear explanation. They must tell me what happened to my son.”

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said his department would be instituting its own investigation into the death of the Parktown Boys High learner. News of Mpianzi’s death led to a public outcry, with many condemning the school of failing not only to ensure his safety, but also to report the incident in time.

Director of Adventure Standards Africa, Professor Graeme Addison, says that the right procedures must be followed at all times.

“The right personnel, the right equipment, the right procedures should be followed. We’re not sure what procedures were followed, but, certainly, if the person was a trained professional, that person would know to give a safety talk, to equip the learners with life jackets, to have supervision throughout the event and to take action if somebody goes missing; which, of course, means you’ve got to count heads and you’ve got to act quickly. A person will drown in less than two minutes.”

Addison says indemnity forms or informed consent agreements do not hold weight if there’s negligence while facilitating activities.

Indemnity and consent forms do not clear anyone guilty of negligence, he adds.

“You can get people to sign whatever you like, but what it eventually comes down to is whether the people participating in the activity were correctly looked after, whether safety procedures were in place and whether the people running the activity were qualified to do so. But neither the indemnity form nor the informed consent is going to clear anybody of negligence if they operate without safety precautions.”

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Meanwhile in another incident on Wednesday, 13-year-old Grade 7 learner, Keamohetswe Shaun Seboko, was found dead in a hostel swimming pool at Laerskool Bekker in Magaliesburg.

The Department of Basic Education has expressed disappointment at the lack of immediate communication by two schools in Gauteng following the fatal drowning of two learners.

Department to institute investigation into death of learner
17 January 2020, 2:00 PM

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says his department will be instituting its own investigation into the death of the Parktown Boys High learner. Lesufi says according to information received, the boy went missing on Wednesday and his department was only informed of the disappearance late last night. The learner, from Parktown Boys High School was participating in an Orientation Camp.

“That’s the part that we still have to investigate because our mandate was just for us to get the body or to get the child. The police said there are things that they have observed and they will want to interrogate some of the learners there and also to speak some of the educators. So, we also appointed an independent person to investigate on our behalf.”

Meanwhile, a parent of a Grade 8 learner at Parktown Boys High School says he wants answers from both the school and Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi after the death of the learner while on a camp. Katlego Mphela says his son was also on the Orientation Camp where the fellow learner, Enock Mpianzi perished.

The school has come under pressure to explain the circumstances around the 13 year old’s death. Mphela says he only heard about Mpianzi’s disappearance and death through the news.

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Miss Universe reiterates message of grooming girls to be leaders
17 January 2020, 1:14 PM

Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi has visited the United Nations headquarters in New York.

She spoke to the media and reiterated her message that girls should be groomed to take up space as leaders.

“We are taught to be followers at a very young age – men lead and women follow. So, it is really important to bridge that gap between men and women.”

Yound girls should be given an opportunity to tap into their power, she added.

Khamenei says Iran’s strikes at US targets show “hand of God”
17 January 2020, 12:55 PM

Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a Friday prayers sermon that Iran’s missile strikes on US targets in Iraq showed it had divine support in delivering a “slap on the face” to a world power.

Making the main weekly sermon in Tehran for the first time since 2012, with Iran and its clerical rulers under pressure at home and abroad, Khamenei also said that US sanctions imposed in a row over its nuclear programme would not make Iran yield.

Thousands had gathered inside a large prayer hall in central Tehran and packed the area and streets outside the building, chanting “Death to America”.

The sermon was delivered after Iran’s rulers faced days of often violent protests after the military admitted to mistakenly shooting down an airliner in the tense hours after the missile strikes, which were in turn launched in retaliation for the US killing on January 3 of a top Iranian commander, close to Khamenei.

“The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God,” Khamenei, saying the US killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, showed Washington’s “terrorist nature”.

US President Donald Trump, who pulled Washington out of a nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and ratcheted up tension by reimposing US sanctions, had ordered the drone strike that killed Soleimani, who built up proxy militias across the region.

After days of denying a role in the plane crash, the Revolutionary Guards, a parallel military force answering directly to Khamenei that acts as guardian of Islamic Republic, finally admitted on January 11 that one of its air defence operators mistakenly shot down Ukraine Airlines International flight 752.

Vigils for the 176 victims swiftly turned into protests against Iran’s rulers. “Death to Khamenei” was chanted at protests and spray painted on walls of Tehran and other cities. Such public criticism can result in a jail term in Iran.

Khamenei described the crash as a tragedy and a very sad incident that was used by Iran’s “enemies”, used to describe the United States and its allies, to overshadow the killing of Soleimani, whose funeral drew huge crowds onto the streets.

In the demonstrations after the downing of the airliner, police launched a sometimes crackdown and deployed riot police outside universities, where many students had protested.

Video footage posted online showed protesters were beaten and also recorded gunshots, teargas and blood on the streets.

Iran’s police denied firing at protesters and said officers had been ordered to show restraint.

CWU calls for Telkom to help affected employees set up businesses as retrenchments loom
17 January 2020, 12:38 PM

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) wants workers who will be affected by the planned retrenchments at Telkom to be assisted to set up their own businesses.

Spokesperson Aubrey Tshabalala says they first made the proposal to Telkom two years ago, but the company failed to implement it.

The telecoms giant notified unions that up to 3 000 workers could lose their jobs as it struggles with declining performance in fixed voice and data services.

Tshabalala says CWU will fight the retrenchments as it will leave the workers without a livelihood.

“Two years ago, we proposed that the workers that were retrenched, Telkom must give them business which it did for few months and then left them to dry.

“Many of those businesses collapsed because they didn’t get the work. We’ve just heard about the Massmart that it is retrenching two days ago, so it means that a worker will be left with two options, poverty or resort to crime. So we don’t have any alternative, we must fight to the bitter end,” Tshabalala explains.

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