A toxic silence has surrounded Parktown Boys’ High School following the death of 13-year old Enoch Mpianzi, protesters said on Tuesday.

On a grey and rainy morning a few people gathered outside the school, which has faced previous controversies, and demanded it speak up about really what happened to Mpianzi.

With media gathered around the grand steel gates of the school, students arrived for their first day back since classes were suspended on Monday.

Holding a sign reading “a black child’s life is worth less than the price of a life jacket”, Natalie Ridgard said Mpianzi’s death was “grossly negligent”.

“They need to tell the truth and they need to come out and tell us what happened, that’s why I’m here. We need better from our schools,” Ridgard said.

“Parktown Boys’ High is a toxic place and the toxicity needs to be cleaned out. We’re only going to do that if people know the truth.”

‘Culture of silence’

On Wednesday last week, Mpianzi set off to attend his Grade 8 orientation camp in the North West with his new school mates, unable to sleep the previous night from excitement.

Upon arrival, students took part in a water activity which involved building their own rafts.

Natalie Ridgard says Parktown Boys' High is a toxiProtestors outside Parktown Boys' High School

A makeshift raft that he and other boys were on overturned on the Crocodile River and Mpianzi went missing.

His body was found on Friday in nearby bushes along the river.

“This is what negligence does, and a culture of silence does in boys’ schools,” Kago Sau, a 19-year-old protester told News24.

“This is the same culture that happens in locker rooms and it’s a mentality that ‘what happens in a boys’ school stays in a boys’ school’… I don’t think this should be the case,” Sau said.

Kago Sau protests the silence surrounding Enoch's

He said he was triggered when he heard about the story.

“Having attended a camp like this and having a brother who lost his life in a drowning accident, I was very triggered.

“For me, I can’t stay silent when something I’ve experienced has happened again.”

Luleka Flatela said she was there to demand justice for Mpianzi amid a lack of information surrounding his death.

“The circumstances around his drowning is not clear from the school and the lodge. They seem to be blaming Enoch for dying by drowning,” Flatela said.

Luleka Flatela says Enoch's death was a result of

(All photos by Azarrah Karrim, News24)

She said the school was handling the situation “very badly”, having reacted late to Mpianzi’s disappearance.

“Student rights, and black student rights specifically, are human rights.

“The way the school and the lodge accounts for the drowning of this kid leaves much to be desired,” she said.

“The school and the lodge owner grossly violated Enoch’s right to life and right to dignity by the way they are handling the matter,” Flatela said.

A meeting was called by the school which parents and the Gauteng Department of Basic Education attended on Tuesday.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the school had explained what they were doing to support the children. 

“They explained that all learners had to be counselled, and they also pleaded for their support – that parents need to observe their children very closely and detect anything untoward,” Mabona said. 

“[The school] acknowledged that they had have raised concerns, but it would be difficult for them as a school to enter into the activities of what transpired because of the independent probe that must be undertaken.”

However, Mabona said parents were not satisfied, with some feeling like they had “wasted their time”.

“I think because… this is probably the first interaction they’ve had with the school because parents are new,” Mabona said.

He added that law firms had been appointed to assist with the investigation and would probably start talking to concerned parties. 

Read More

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here