The fatal delay in searching for drowned Parktown Boys' High School learner Enoch Mpianzi was caused by a "negligent" teacher who left the roll-call list on the hired bus - hence the learner was unaccounted for.
The Star has reliably uncovered more painful details of a major negligence cover-up in Enoch's tragic death, with the school's headmaster Malcolm Williams and the school governing body fingered as leading the alleged deception.
It's emerged that teachers were nonchalantly playing games while Enoch was enduring his horrific last moments at Nyati Bush and Riverbank in the North West last Wednesday.
Insiders revealed that Alex Meintjies, the leader of seven teachers who accompanied 198 boys to their Grade 8 camp, left the roll-call list and indemnity forms on the hired bus used by the school to ferry the learners to Nyati.
The bus returned to Joburg immediately after dropping them off at the camp.
The boys were left unsupervised in the river after making a bamboo raft which was tied together with shoelaces. Fifty boys almost drowned during this activity after being overpowered by the strong current.
“A boy ran to call teachers and found two male teachers playing a game of throwing stones inside a bucket. Meanwhile, another Grade 8 learner, who is a very good swimmer, has cuts and scratches all over his body from saving 12 of his classmates,” an insider said.
“None of the teachers jumped in the water.
"Only two camp facilitators jumped in the river, where about 14 boys, including Enoch, were clinging onto a mini island in the water.
“The boys were told to let go by the facilitators, who said they would catch the learners.
"Enoch drifted away and was not saved while the traumatised boys were watching him.”
A source said Parktown had 208 Grade 8 boys, 10 of whom did not go on the trip. When it was time to do a headcount on Wednesday after the ordeal, the source added, it emerged that teacher Meintjies had not brought the list of names and indemnity forms.
“The school had to send over a new list, which included all Grade 8 learners, including those not on the trip. When names were called out by the headmaster Williams, it was assumed that those boys who didn't respond weren't on the trip, including Enoch.
“But one boy told Williams that Enoch was missing, but Williams did not take him seriously.
"It was only when the school driver came with the original roll-call list on Thursday morning, did Williams realise that Enoch's name was on it.
“This is why the Mpianzi family were called at 11am on Thursday to ask if their son was on the trip. Williams and the SGB are hiding this information from parents, and we think from Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi as well.”
Lesufi is expected to reveal findings from a forensic probe into Enoch's death tomorrow.
However, Nyati's lawyer Danië Eloff said eight facilitators had supervised learners, and did not notice any child being swept away.
Eloff disputed that a roll-call was done by the school, saying “there was uncertainty among the school staff whether the eight absent learners were actually attending the camp at all”.
Enoch is not the first child to drown at the camp. In April 2010, Mellony Sias of Hoërskool Adamantia in Kimberley, Northern Cape, drowned after attending a hockey training camp.
Eloff said the lodge's current manager Anton Knoetze Junior was unaware of the incident because, at the time, the camp was managed by his father Anton Knoetze Senior.
Enoch's uncle Sebastian Kodie Motha said funeral arrangements were still being made.
In a statement last night, the school's governing body said it pledged its support to the investigation, saying: "We are giving input with the honesty and courage that has defined our institution.
"We will play our part to ensure we get to the bottom of this tragedy, for the truth to be told and to ensure that it never happens again."
EFF leader Julius Malema visited the Mpianzis in Malvern on Wednesday where he announced that the party had assembled a legal team to represent them.
The legal team includes advocates Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Laurence Hodes and attorney Ian Levitt, and would represent the family free of charge.
“Both the lodge and the school have neglected those children and therefore should take full responsibility,” Malema said.