RIVER OF DEATH

Ques­tions are be­ing asked and fin­gers pointed af­ter the tragic drown­ing of a Park­town Boys’ High pupil at a school camp.

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Sipho Mabena [email protected]­i­zen.co.za

Boys pan­icked when they got into deep wa­ter, says lodge in­struc­tor.

The dis­cov­ery of the body of a Park­town Boys’ High School pupil has led to sev­eral ques­tions about the han­dling of the trip, with par­ents de­mand­ing an­swers on why it took nearly a day be­fore a search was started for the drowned boy.

Mean­while, it has emerged that none of the in­struc­tors knew that Enoch Mpi­anzi couldn’t swim and didn’t even no­tice his dis­ap­pear­ance, and this is ul­ti­mately what led to his death, ac­cord­ing to an in­struc­tor at the lodge near Brits, North West.

“Be­fore they went into the river for the wa­ter ex­er­cise, I re­peat­edly asked whether they could swim and all said ‘yes’. I strongly be­lieve he would have sur­vived if he could swim,” Dirk Nel, one of the 17 in­struc­tors at the Iny­athi Sports School and Lodge, told Satur­day Cit­i­zen yes­ter­day.

He painted a pic­ture of pan­icky pupils af­ter they re­alised they were in the deep end of the river, with in­struc­tors scram­bling to pull the boys out of the Croc­o­dile River pass­ing through the fa­cil­ity.

Nel ex­plained that the boys ar­rived at the fa­cil­ity just af­ter 1pm and went on to par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing ad­ven­ture, ob­sta­cle cour­ses and archery.

He said for sur­vival ex­er­cises, there was a sim­u­la­tion of a plane crash and the boys were split into groups of 15, with five boys in each sub-group.

Each group had to carry one pupil, pre­tend­ing to be in­jured in the crash, down the river on a stretcher they made out of wood, ropes and tyre tubes.

Ac­cord­ing to Nel, the in­struc­tors told the boys to re­main close to the edge of the river where it was not deep and the cur­rent was not strong, but some of them some­how ended up waist-deep the mid­dle of the river and started to panic.

“Boys be­ing boys, they wan­dered to the deep end and started pan­ick­ing as they went deeper and deeper. All hell broke loose when ev­ery­body tried to climb on the stretch­ers, which cap­sized, tak­ing them un­der. We im­me­di­ately rushed to pull the boys out of the wa­ter but we had no idea how many were there as no list was given to us,” he said.

He said though the boys were shaken by the river ex­pe­ri­ence, they went on to take part in other ac­tiv­i­ties, un­aware that one of them had been swept away.

Nel said the school prin­ci­pal had a roll call af­ter­wards but even then failed to no­tice that Mpi­anzi was miss­ing. He said if they had a list with the names of the pupils maybe they would have no­ticed ear­lier and done some­thing.

He said it was only the fol­low­ing day that the pupils no­ticed that one of them was miss­ing, say­ing they had searched ev­ery­where for the boy with not luck.

“We spent three hours look­ing for him in the river that night but all we could find was a cap and T-shirt,” Nel said, adding that he was so trau­ma­tised by the in­ci­dent that he could not sleep.

Dipuo Modis­ane, a cleaner at the fa­cil­ity, said the boys were ex­cited when they ar­rived but their sec­ond day was gloomy and they were shak­ing with shock.

She said they were in­structed to search ev­ery room af­ter it emerged that Mpi­anzi was miss­ing.

“The worst part is that the boys had met for the first time that day and they did not know each other but there was this one pupil who said he last saw [Mpi­anzi] at the river but was scared to talk. He only spoke the fol­low­ing day but it was too late,” Modis­ane said.

The school staff ac­com­pa­ny­ing the pupils have come un­der fire for not re­port­ing the miss­ing boy in time.

Po­lice divers started search­ing for the boy on Thurs­day, and his body was dis­cov­ered yes­ter­day around 10am, three kilo­me­tres from the ac­tiv­ity site.

North West po­lice spokesper­son, Colonel Adele My­burgh, said an in­quest docket had been opened, while Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion MEC, Panyaza Le­sufi, said they were dev­as­tated by the in­ci­dent.

Le­sufi said the depart­ment would con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mpi­anzi’s death, and will de­ter­mine the cir­cum­stances and who was to blame. He said he would re­port back within three months.

“We are dev­as­tated at the depart­ment ... and will do ev­ery­thing in our power to com­pile a proper re­port,” Le­sufi said. –

We spent three hours look­ing for him in the river

Pic­ture: Nigel Sibanda

SCENE OF THE TRAGEDY. Camp worker Julie Habedi next to the Croc­o­dile River in North West where Park­town Boys’ High pupil Enoch Mpi­anzi, inset, drowned dur­ing an ex­er­cise on a school camp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.