The family of Enock Mpianzi, the Parktown Boys High School pupil who drowned, is suing the Gauteng government for R20 million, over his death. This was announced by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Sunday, 29 November 2020.
Mpianzi, a 13-year-old learner who was starting Grade 8 at the Johannesburg school, died during an orientation camp near Brits in the North West back in January 2020. His body was discovered two days after he had been last seen.
Addressing the media, where he gave an update on the online school admissions process, Lesufi said they had tried to level with the Mpianzi family, but they are not budging.
“We tried our level best to persuade the Mpianzi family and their legal firm to accept the offer we presented as a department so we can close this chapter. Unfortunately, we disagreed and the family still insists the department give them R20 million as the settlement. This amount is way beyond what the department is in a position to afford,” Lesufi said.
An investigation found that Nyati Bush and River Breakaway (where the excursion took place), the principal and several teachers, should be held accountable.
It was learnt that the boy did not have on a life jacket when the makeshift boat he was on collapsed.
Questions have been raised over safety measures taken by the school at the camp – including having enough teachers to chaperone the outing and whether the boys wore safety gear.
Principal challenging dismissal over Mpianzi death
A number of steps have been taken in the wake of the tragedy. The school’s principal Malcolm Williams has since been dismissed, however Lesufi said he was appealing this. The MEC said Williams would stay in his post until his appeal process has been finalised.
Williams is alleged to have allowed the excursion without being given the greenlight. He is also said to have failed to ensure that a proper roll call is maintained throughout the trip.
“Mr Williams has been charged with three allegations of misconduct emanating from an incident which occurred on 15 January 2020 where he unjustifiably prejudiced the administration, discipline or efficiency of the Department,” said department spokesperson Steve Mabona at the time.