Equal Education’s fact-finding process to be finalised on Friday
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Equal Education’s fact-finding process undertaken by the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) following the death of Eastern Cape pupil Avethandwa Nokhangela will be concluded on Friday, the organisation announced.
On Wednesday, the NPO said it appointed an independent panel to review the fact finding process undertaken by the EELC, and to make findings on the circumstances surrounding the tragic passing of Avethandwa.
Avethandwa, 15, was an Equal Education Equaliser (learner member) and had attended the organisation’s leadership camp held at Palm Springs where she drowned during a break.
The independent panel conducting the investigation will consist of highly experienced advocates EE said. The panel includes: Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, Frances Hobden and Lunga Siyo.
The panel will:
- Review the information collected through the fact-finding process conducted by the Equal Education Law Centre, including the final report and all statements.
- Conduct any interviews, where necessary.
- Make findings to understand as best as possible exactly what took place in the moment of the tragic accident.
- Make recommendations on possible restorative justice processes between Equal Education and Avethandwa's family.
- Make findings and recommendations related to Equal Education, and the accountability or remedial measures that may need to be taken.
EE said the independent investigation report will be handed to the National Council (board) of Equal Education to consider what action should be taken.
The organisation however, cannot at this stage confirm whether or not it will be publishing the report because the subject matter concerns minors.
“We want to express again how very sorry we are for the horrible pain that Avethandwa’s family is in.
“Supporting her family has been and continues to be our priority, and our deep care for her family and for our members, and our commitment to accountability, have guided all our efforts at this very painful time,” EE said.
The organisation also mentioned that it had not been easy to deal with some of the criticism in the media.
“We believe that the compassionate approach – which was to prioritise support to the grieving family, learners and our staff – was the correct one in the circumstances.
“We also chose to respect Avethandwa’s family’s request for space after laying her to rest.
“Not only would divulging details in these circumstances have been insensitive and uncaring; it would prejudice the EELC’s fact finding inquiry and the work of the independent panel,” the organisation said.
Avethandwa’s family will not be providing statements for the fact-finding process, but will participate in the independent investigation.