Parents in Johannesburg have expressed their disapproval and shock at the neglect by educators of Parktown Boys High School learners that has been detailed in a report on the drowning death of Enock Mpianzi.

The report found that the educators who accompanied the learners on a camp at the Nyati Bush Lodge were negligent and failed to fulfil their duties.

It recommends that disciplinary action be taken against them and the principal, Malcolm Williams, who has been placed on suspension.

Mpianzi died after a makeshift raft – he and his fellow pupils had built – capsized in the Crocodile River. These parents are not impressed.

“It hurts me that when teachers leave with children, they end up neglecting the children. We assume that when they leave with their teachers, they are safe and are supervised because when they enter the water, whose mistake is it? It’s the teachers. It doesn’t sit well with me. I’m a parent to a child,” says one parent.

Another one adds, “Sometimes the mistake is governments. The government must hire people accordingly, not just hire anyone to be a teacher. Government is also to blame.”

“The teachers are to blame because if they are travelling with children, they have to ensure that the children are safe and there are no problems. As a parent, when you pay school fees, you assume they take care of everything as well as safety,” insists another concerned parent.

Review of policies

Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) says there is a need for all stakeholders in the education system to review their policies particularly regarding consent forms for learners embarking on school trips.

“The first point that we must look at is how do we strengthen such policies? We now hear that the consent form is going to be strengthened to include declaring the place to be visited, a safe place or to do a visit to that place first and determine its safety. The second point is how many teachers must accompany 100 learners, for example. It becomes important for all of us; the department, the labour unions, the SGBs to fully understand the detail of the policy and where it needs strengthening,” says Sadtu Provincial Secretary in Gauteng, Tsheliso Ledimo.

Governing School’s oversight role

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) has emphasised the importance of oversight in school activities following Mpianzi’s death.

“Oversight is of vital importance. If you have a policy document or regulation in place, the governing body is ultimately responsible for the safety of the learners and they must ensure that the principal and all the staff members exercise caution and care in the planning and execution, follow the internal policies and also report back to the governing body. It’s not only the duty of the department to give permission for the tours. The oversight function and the policy function is that of the school governing body,” says Fedsas Deputy CEO, Jaco Deacon.

Mpianzi report 

The details surrounding the death of 13-year-old were released on Wednesday. The 61-page report reveals that the Nyati Bush and River Breakaway in the North West – as well as the headmaster and five educators of the school – were reckless and negligent.

Mpianzi went missing during an activity on the Crocodile River – which required learners to build a makeshift raft.

Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, says Principal Malcolm Williams remains suspended following Mpianzi’s drowning.

In the video below, Lawyer Peter Harris presents the report into Enock Mpianzi’s death :