The headmaster of Parktown Boys’ High School, Malcolm Williams, has been suspended with immediate effect, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi announced today.
The announcement on Friday follows the death of Enoch Mpianzi, who drowned during a Grade 8 camp held at Nyati Bush and River Break Lodge, near Brits in the North West.
At the time of the incident on 15 January 2020, it is said that a group of learners, including Mpianzi, were on a makeshift raft that overturned in the Crocodile River.
Mpianzi was last seen by his schoolmates during that fateful water activity on the first day of camp.
Lesufi said that following the tragedy he and his team had met with Principal Williams, because he was also at the camp, and had requested that he take them through the events that had led to the tragedy.
Lesufi said that “due to the serious inconsistency of the facts presented to us, and that have been reported in the media, and the fact that answers are needed”, an independent law firm has been appointed to investigate the incident.
The minister said the investigating team has already interviewed Williams and they are currently busy interviewing other people who witnessed the incident.
“Our primary goal is to unearth the truth. We have done everything in our power as the department to get to the bottom of the matter. The school governing body (SGB) will be scrutinised and the report will be made public,” Lesufi said.
Lesufi said the SGB will decide on the future of the teachers, who were involved in the incident.
“If they are found guilty, they will never be employed anywhere in the country as teachers,” he said.
Lesufi said future trips will now be approved by his department.
According to Lesufi, Parktown Boys’ High School had another school trip planned to Bloemfontein, which has been cancelled in honour of Mpianzi.
Lesufi said they have instructed the law firm to move with speed to conclude the investigations.
“We want to act. We want to charge the teachers involved individually,” Lesufi said.
District officials, he said, who were supposed to approve the trip, will not be spared from the investigation.
It is said at the time the school had undertaken the trip, the district had not approved the trip. The school had applied for the trip on 17 November 2019.
Mpianzi was a Grade 8 pupil, who had just started his first year of high school. His body was found two days after he had drowned.
Williams was appointed as the new Headmaster of Parktown Boys’ High in August 2018. – SAnews.gov.za