Parents of drowned Parktown learner still waiting for answers

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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.