The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it is willing to assist the family of a 13-year-old Parktown Boys’ High School pupil who drowned at a Grade 8 orientation camp in the North West last week.
Enoch Mpianzi went missing at the camp, which took place at Nyati Bush and Riverbreak Lodge last Wednesday. His body was found on Friday.
Mpianzi was last seen when a makeshift raft which he and other boys were using overturned on Crocodile River on the first day of the camp.
The SAHRC’s Buang Jones told News24 on Monday that the commission was keen to provide legal assistance to the family after it indicated that it would like the Chapter 9 body to help.
Jones said the commission would meet with the family to give them an opportunity to raise their concerns about the case. The meeting is expected to take place on Monday, Jones said.
“The meeting is to give them an opportunity to ventilate their concerns and give them an opportunity to explore the remedies they are seeking. But we stand ready to provide legal support to the family,” Jones said.
Jones said the commission was also ready to mediate between the Gauteng Department of Education, the school and the family.
Further details about the meeting would be released one the commission has received full instructions from the family, he added.
Parktown Boys’ High School has come under fire after the incident and has been widely criticised for the way it handled the case.
The criticisms relate to questions about why it took the school several hours to report the disappearance of the boy – both to his parents and to other parents whose children were on the camp. Questions have also been raised about whether the boys were wearing life jackets at the time they took part in the “water activity”.
News24 visited the family home in Malvern, Johannesburg, on Friday evening where Mpianzi’s uncle, Sebastian Kodiemoka, said a boy who sat next to Mpianzi on the bus while on the way to the camp was the first to notice that he was missing and alerted teachers.
Kodiemoka said the family was told that the boy said Mpianzi was with the rest of the group earlier in the day and was also present at lunch at the lodge on Wednesday.
Sunday Times reported that the family could not afford a life jacket which was part of the items pupils were expected to bring along.
“A life jacket was required from the parents. We didn’t have money for that. It was for them (school staff and organisers) to decide if he could participate, because it is them who took them to the site,” Kodiemoka told the publication.
EWN also reported that Mpianzi did not wear a life jacket because the boys were only supposed to have been in the shallow water, according to lodge manager Anton Knoetze.
NOTE: News24 previously reported that the uncle’s name was Sebastian Kodie Motha. The correct spelling of the surname has since been confirmed as Kodiemoka.