Schoolboy Enock Mpianzi’s death — what we know so far
Enock Mpianzi, 13, died during his grade 8 orientation camp. He was a pupil at Parktown Boys' High in Johannesburg.
While all the details surrounding his death are the subject of an investigation this is what we know so far.
The camp was held at the Nyati Bush and River Breakaway in Brits, North West.
The Gauteng education department said Mpianzi had completed grade 7 at Brixton Primary School in 2019. He and his family were originally from the northern DRC. It was not immediately clear when they arrived in SA.
About 200 pupils attended the camp. About 3pm on Wednesday, some of the pupils took part in a team building exercise that required them to build a makeshift raft and float on a river. The raft that Mpianzi and others were on overturned and there was a strong current.
That was the last time that he was reportedly seen alive.
After the rafting activity, some pupils went on a hike not realising that Mpianzi was missing.
Late on Wednesday, classmates booked in the same room as him noticed his luggage was left unattended.
It is unclear if they raised concerns at that time with teachers or camp officials.
According to the school and police, it was only on Thursday that they confirmed somebody was missing.
School officials were initially not sure who was missing and called parents of grade 8 pupils who had registered for the camp but did not attend. Some had decided not to go as they could not afford the trip. It was not a compulsory trip.
A search began but it was around 3pm on Thursday, about 24 hours after the river rafting outing, that a missing person's report was made at the Assens police station in the North West.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and his department were informed. Lesufi said on Friday: “We were only notified yesterday — late yesterday [Thursday].”
The department held back on announcing the child's disappearance until his family had been notified and brought to the lodge.
Around 1am on Friday the search was postponed and resumed at 4am. Neighbouring farmers and residents arrived to help with the search. One provided an aircraft while others released drones, searching areas around the lodge.
The school posted a statement about Mpianzi’s disappearance on Facebook early on Friday. “Police search and rescue are on site and are already at work in the area of the river where a water activity was held after the boy’s arrival. The parents of the missing boy are at the venue.” Appeals were made for help to find the missing child.
Dam levels leading to the Crocodile river were lowered as the search continued.
About 11am, the body of Mpianzi was found by police divers — more than 40 hours after he was last seen alive. “Police said it was fortunate that the body did not go into the dam,” said Lesufi.
He could not confirm if Mpianzi or other pupils were wearing life jackets at the time or had been taken through safety precautions. But a representative of the lodge told radio 702 the children did not wear life jackets as they were supposed to be in shallow water.
The department has vowed to conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances of the child's death.