Johannesburg – The Gauteng Department of Education has fired Parktown Boys High School principal Malcolm Williams nine months after the death of Grade 8 pupil Enock Mpianzi, who drowned at the Nyati Bush and Riverbreak Lodge in the North West.
The department says Williams failed to ensure a roll call was maintained throughout the trip and also undertook the trip without prior approval from the head of department.
Another teacher had forgotten the roll call register in the bus which ferried boys to the camp from Joburg.
In January, the Parktown Boys High School Grade 8 orientation camp was cut short when Mpianzi went missing and was feared drowned after a water exercise saw several boys have their makeshift raft capsize.
Mpianzi never made it out of the water alive, but it took over a day before teachers knew that he was missing.
At the time, Williams telephoned Mpianzi’s father to confirm if the Grade 8 pupil was part of the camp. The father confirmed the pupil was on the trip, which led to a frantic search from the police.
In a statement, Steve Mabona, the spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Education said the principal had five days to respond to his notice to dismiss letter which he was served with on Monday.
Williams was found guilty on two allegations of misconduct out of the three he faced.
The allegations he was found guilty of were:
1. He unjustifiably prejudiced the administration, discipline or efficiency of the department by undertaking a Grade 8 orientation camp without prior approval.
2. He failed to ensure that a correct roll call for all pupils who went to the excursion was maintained.
On the third allegation, which set out that he endangered the lives of pupils by failing to ensure all boys had life jackets, he was found not guilty.
“It is paramount to note that the principal was found guilty of the first two allegations, and subsequently not guilty of the third allegation. The presiding officer has, after careful consideration of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, dismissed him accordingly.
“Therefore, he has a right to appeal to the MEC against the findings by the presiding officer within five working days of his receiving of the dismissal notice,” said Mabona.
In January, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi had promised that heads would roll for Enoch’s death, asserting that the trip to Nyati Bush and River Break in the North West was “unauthorised”.
“We cannot begin to understand the pain and suffering of the family. But we are committed to ensuring that we hold those responsible accountable.
“We can now confirm that the school made an application to the district (for the trip) but that the district had not approved the trip – thus making this trip unauthorised,” the MEC said at the time.
On the morning of Thursday January 16, around 10am – just a day after Enock left for the trip, his father Guy Intamba received a horror phone call from the school receptionist inquiring whether his son had attended the camp.
“He told them that Enock had gone on the camp and that he had personally put him on the bus. He stated that the response was ‘Okay fine if we don’t call you back, it means everything is okay’,” a forensic report into Enock Mpianzi’s death read.
The report was compiled by Harris Nupen Molebatsi attorneys, who found that the principal, teachers, the school and the department of education, were all negligent in the 13-year-old’s death.
Intamba received a second phone call about six hours later, this time, from school principal Malcolm Williams, who also inquired about Enock.
“Mr Williams asked him if he was with Enock. Mr Intamba replied with words to the effect of, ‘no, that he was not with Enock as Enock was at the camp’.
“He was then told by Mr Williams that Enock was missing. Mr Intamba stated that when he was told this, he did not feel well and he gave the phone to Mr Salamawu who was standing close to him.
“He told Mr Salamawu to speak to the person on the other end of the phone as he did not understand what he was being told,” the report reads.
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