Legal action threat after boy's drowning report
Enock Mpianzi's family will pursue civil and criminal action against the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) and others found to have played a role in the death of the boy.
TimesLIVE says Ian Levitt, a Johannesburg attorney, yesterday said: 'As can be seen from the report, the conduct of several individuals is an absolute outrage and the strongest of action taken now will prevent another nightmare such as this taking place again.'
As reported previously, the report on the forensic investigation into the drowning of the Parktown Boys' High School pupil on an orientation camp, found the department negligent. Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng's Education MEC, said the teachers on the camp had not been suspended, 'because in the preliminary report the teachers were not implicated; now that we have seen the report we will start that process'.
Peter Harris, of Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys, who read out the forensic report, also said those at the education district office were responsible for 'the failure to adequately consider the application of the school' and must be the subject of disciplinary proceedings.
The school was found to be negligent, if not reckless, in allowing the water exercise to go ahead when the educators knew that the activity would end with a river swim. One teacher was also found to be negligent for 'failing to exercise the duty of care' relating to the issue of the roll calls.
The damning report recommends that the GDE conduct a thorough investigation into the other four deaths of pupils at Nyati to ensure that the interests of justice are served and to bring closure for the families of the deceased.
Nyati Bush and Riverbreak did not keep life jackets for river rafting, lodge manager Anton Knoetze reportedly told the inquiry, notes TimesLIVE. ‘ ... we keep life jackets for tubing, not this activity.’
When asked whether he knew that pupils had been stranded on an island in the river and had to be rescued by facilitators, he said: ‘I don’t know about islands.’
Knoetze's attitude was ‘extremely problematic’, said the attorneys’ report. ‘We make this finding in view of the fact that there have been four deaths of learners at that camp since 1999. Given the tragic nature of those deaths involving water, whether in the swimming pool or in the river, it is to be expected that great care would have been exercised by Nyati. The actions of Nyati, its manager and its facilitators in simply allowing over 200 learners to enter into a river without life jackets in which the conditions were clearly risky and dangerous, is outrageous and reckless,’ said the report.
When headmaster Malcolm Williams was asked if he knew that Nyati had only 12 life jackets, he responded, ‘ ... that’s mind boggling’.
Asked why he did not ensure that pupils were wearing life jackets, he responded, ‘because I did not anticipate this exercise’.
© Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd 2016
Article disclaimer: Juta expressly reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to alter or amend any criteria or information set out in this article without notice. Accordingly, any information, including journalistic articles, are not intended to constitute legal, financial, accounting, tax, investment, consulting or other professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action based on the information contained in this article, which decision or action might affect your personal finances or business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.