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Picket at Parktown Boys' High as classes resume after Grade 8 pupil's death at orientation camp

Flowers in tribute to Enoch Mpianzi.
Flowers in tribute to Enoch Mpianzi.
Image: Iavan Pijoos/TimesLIVE

The call by a handful of concerned citizens who gathered outside Parktown Boys’ High School on Tuesday morning was clear: “Suspend all teachers involved, including the principal, pending the investigation into Enoch Mpianzi’s death.”

The group held placards that read: “A black child’s life is worth less than the price of a jacket.” A second read: “#Justice for Enoch.”

A few bouquets of flowers lay at of the main gates of the school.

On Tuesday morning, all classes resumed.

One of the organisers of the march, Vanita Daniels, said she was filled with sadness and rage after reading about Mpianzi’s death.

“I got angry when I saw the non-statement from the school and I got livid when I read the Sunday Times article.

“Then there was this wall of silence where we couldn’t get answers to very simple questions that weren’t rocket science.

“Simple questions like: Did he wear a life jacket? Did the kids wear life jackets? Why can’t you [Parktown Boys] answer that?

“Did you do a roll call after the incident?”

Daniels said she stood in solidarity with Mpianzi’s parents to demand justice for his death.

“It is inconceivable that you send your child to a school and they don’t come back,” Daniels said.

She called on the department of education to suspend all teachers and the principal pending the probe into the incident, adding that the camp should also be closed.

“How can it be business as usual for them? Broadly we need to look at this culture of orientation camps,” she said.

Mpianzi is believed to have died during a river-rafting accident while on a school orientation camp for grade 8 pupils. The camp took place at Nyati Bush and Riverbreak lodge in the North West last week. A postmortem report is awaited and an independent inquiry has been instituted.

Natalie Ridgard, who was also at the school, said it was important to demand accountability from the school system.

“ ... To tell the truth and look after our children better. We trust them to care for our children when we are not there.

“We need transparency, accountability and the truth.”

Ridgard, the mother of a 10-year-old a six-year-old, said it was important to teach children to say “no” to taking part in activities on orientation camps.

“If this is what is going to happen at schools, we need to teach our children to say no if they feel uncomfortable about doing something.”

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