Family and friends of the late Enock Mpianzi gathered for a memorial service at Parktown Boys high. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Family and friends of the late Enock Mpianzi gathered for a memorial service at Parktown Boys high. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - A sorrowful mood prevailed over the school hall at Parktown Boys High School, as pupils, parents and teachers came out in their numbers to bid farewell to Enock Mpianzi, who drowned at a school camp at the Nyati River Break in the North West. 

Pupils from Parktown Boys High and Brixton Primary School, a school Enock joined in Grade 3, filled the school hall during a memorial service in Johannesburg. Mourners heard how the late Grade 8 pupil had arrived in Johannesburg for Grade 3 and how he had struggled to speak a word of English at the time, yet he passed academically.  

Enock’s primary school teacher, Miss Modipa-Xaba, remembered the 13-year-old as a shy, quiet, efficient at maths and a skilled chess player.

“Is it well, it is absolutely not,” Modiba-Xaba bemoaned. 

The school teacher said they were immensely proud of Enock when he was accepted to study at the resourceful Parktown Boys High School, a quintile 5 school, as their school was a poorly resourced quintile 1 school. 

She said they had been looking forward to tracking Enock’s journey through high school, in the hope that they would use him to inspire others. They did not expect the news that was to come last Friday, that Enock had tragically died during a school trip. 

“It is heartbreaking to lose a child like you, Enock. We are not going to bury you, we are going to plant you like a seed, and you will blossom,” said the teacher. 

Modiba-Xaba remembered Enock as a fragile, quiet, but focused pupil. 

“My sons finished Grade 12 last year, but he did not know what he wants for his life. Enock came to this still after Grade 7 with a vision of being a lawyer,” she said.

She said she hoped that his death would change the manner in which excurssions were handled and told the Mpianzi family, ‘you are not alone’. 

She also called on the young Grade 8 boys who had just known each other for a number of hours before tragedy struck, to ‘hold each other, stand strong and support each other’.

GOD STEP IN 

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was tired of issuing death certificates and not excellence awards or school report cards. 

“We have never met. When I met you, I met you in a bodybag. It was not nice. Go well my son, till we meet again,” said Lesufi. 

He called on God to step in.

“To our creator, we are pleading with you, it is enough, it is difficult, it is painful, we cannot cope,” said Lesufi. 

During his short speech, he recalled how suspended Parktown Boys High headmaster Malcolm Williams contacted him on Thursday evening, sounding distraught by the incident.

“Here am I addressing learners not to understand a poem, but addressing learners to accept an obituary to bid farewell to one of their own. 

“Since last Friday, our hearts may beat, but they are beating different. Since that fatal day it has been difficult to confront the family to explain,” said Lesufi. 

Meanwhile, Lesufi rebuked the school for a reported culture of silence after Grade 8 boys were allegedly told to not speak to anyone about what had transpired at the camp.

“No child under our leadership that will be attacked, traumatized and not be allowed to speak because there is a code of conduct which says boys are boys, and boys do not cry. 

“Where you see wrong say it respectfully without undermining your teachers, and I will protect you,” said Lesufi. 

IOL