Probe into NWU student's drowning

2012-02-01 19:00

Johannesburg - Higer Education Minister Blade Nzimande has announced an independent investigation into the drowning of 19-year-old Thabang Makhoang at the Potchefstroom Campus of the University of the North West.

In a media statement, Nzimande said that although he had read “the university’s statement and explanation of what occurred during the 'fruit festival’”, he was “deeply concerned at the description of the organised event”.

According to the university, Thabang, a first-year-engineering student, drowned in the university’s swimming pool after a fruit festival event on the introduction and orientation programme.

First years are supposed to “rub” fruit on each other and then take a swim in the swimming pool.

Thabang drowned unnoticed among 77 of his residence peers, with 47 safety staff allegedly present.

He was only discovered two hours later, after another two residences had used the pool.

Nzimande said that “the description of the event and what had actually taken place is remarkably similar to former 'initiation ceremonies' which were often undignified, inhumane and discriminatory”.

He said that the investigation would also assess the organisation and implementation of the orientation programme at the university.

On Sunday, City Press reported that Thabang did not know how to swim and that he had only been warned in Afrikaans that he did not need to participate in the swimming event.

The first-year engineering student was an example to many students in the poor community of Tswelelang, Wolmaransstad, because he achieved 98% for maths and was the first pupil in the school ever to score an A for physical science.

In the year after he had completed his matric, Thabang was asked by his school to teach maths after it lost one of its teacher to a rehabilitation centre.

The matric group’s marks improved significantly in that year.

Read more on:    nwu  |  blade nzimande  |  thabang makhoang  |  mahikeng  |  education  |  drownings
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