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Independent probe into the drowning of EC pupil at Equal Education camp still incomplete

Equal Education members protesting

Equal Education says the independent investigation into the drowning of Avethandwa Nokhangela, 15, has not been finalised. Picture: David Ritchie

Published Jul 13, 2021


THE probe into the drowning of Eastern Cape learner Avethandwa Nokhangela by independent investigators has still not been finalised.

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 incident occurred on April 29.

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Shortly after the teen’s funeral Equal Education started its own fact-finding process, which was undertaken by the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC).

Once the fact-finding process, to establish the circumstances surrounding the tragic passing of Avethandwa, was completed on May 26 the matter was handed over for independent investigators to probe.

EE spokesperson Leanne Jansen-Thomas said the investigation is ongoing.

“As our National Council has said, which is reflected in this statement, it wants the investigation to be completed as quickly as possible but did not want to be prescriptive to the independent process, and sincerely hopes that the investigation will be completed by the end of July,” she said.

Avethandwa’s death saw officials call for a thorough investigation.

However, Equal Education stood firm saying the investigation was under way.

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The independent panel conducting the investigation consisted of highly experienced advocates, EE said. The panel includes: Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, Frances Hobden and Lunga Siyo.

The panel is expected to:

  • 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 on the accountability or remedial measures that may need to be taken.

EE said a report from the independent investigation will be handed to the National Council (board) of Equal Education, to consider what action should be taken.

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