No roll call was done at Parktown Boys' High before leaving for camp - Nyati lodge

Facilitators had to help three groups get out of water, says lodge, add that they did not notice anyone being swept away

No roll call was done at Parktown Boys' High before leaving for camp - Nyati lodge

22 January 2020

No roll call was done by Parktown Boys' High School before Grade 8 pupils departed for their orientation camp last week and that caused confusion when some learners were unaccounted for, Nyati Bush and Riverbreak lodge has said in a statement.

The lodge has spoken out following a week of criticism after 13-year-old Enoch Mpianzi died while attending a camp at the site last Wednesday.

Mpianzi was last seen when a makeshift raft he and other boys were on overturned on the Crocodile River, on the first day of the camp.

They had built their own rafts and some boys, among them Enoch, fell off and scrambled to get back on.

Nyati Bush and Riverbreak, through its legal representative Daniël Eloff, said pupils had participated in an adventure activity on Wednesday, known as "stretcher run".

He said the adventure activities were facilitated by 17 staff members from the lodge, and that eight of those were deployed at the riverside to assist.

"The children participating in the activity were excited and competitive. The groups were eager to finish first and started to overtake other groups in the water.

"That created a dangerous situation as groups – despite clear instructions to the contrary – tended to move into the deep end of the river where the current was stronger than in the shallow water.

"The facilitators had to help three groups to get out of the water. At no stage did the facilitators notice that any of the group members were swept away, but the specific activity was immediately terminated when the dangers were realised," Eloff said.

It was only after a roll call by the school staff on the Wednesday evening when it was realised that eight pupils were unaccounted for, but there was "uncertainty amongst the school staff whether the eight absent [pupils] were actually attending the camp".

The lodge said that only after the parents of the eight "unaccounted [for]" pupils were contacted on Thursday morning, did they realise that Mpianzi was missing.

The lodge said it would be cooperating and assisting in all investigations and would provide access to its property.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona could not give further details in the matter and said investigations were continuing.