Life jackets were not issued to Grade 8 Parktown Boys' High School pupils during a water activity because it was meant to take place in shallow water, a forensic investigation has revealed.
The damning report into the circumstances that led to the tragic death of Grade 8 pupil Enock Mpianzi, 13, which was compiled by Peter Harris of Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys (HNM), was released during a parents' meeting and media briefing at the school on Wednesday night.
Delivering the executive summary of the report, Peter Harris of HNM said while conducting the probe, the camp manager, named as Mr Knoetze, informed investigators that life jackets were only issued to people who were "tubing" down the river and that they were not used for stretcher and rafting activities.
The probe also found that the lodge operates with 12 jackets. The campsite personnel and teachers were therefore found to have been negligent and reckless to have allowed over 200 pupils who attended the camp to be in the water without life jackets, Harris said.
He added that educators should have stopped the activity when they saw that water currents were strong and that there were no life jackets.
'Callous and false'
"The explanation given by Mr Knoetze that the learners were meant to stay in the shallow water and not go into the river and that life jackets are only issued for tubing is found to be callous and false," the report reads.
It also found that the groups of pupils who were at the river without life jackets were at risk of injury and drowning due to the nature of the river, which was evident in the fact that the rafts the boys had assembled disintegrated resulting in the boys being swept away.
Many of the boys had to be rescued further down the river, while others were beyond the island.
Mpianzi's body was found 1.8 kilometres downstream on Friday, 17 January.
The law firm also outlined that, during the investigation, it also learnt that there were more than two other deaths at the lodge and recommended that further investigations be done into previous incidents - particularly those of Portia Sowela, Thuso Moalusi, Tumi Mokomane and Mellony Sias - to establish the progress of police investigations in the deaths and whether Nyati was at any fault.
Touching on the school's legacy and issues, Harris said the 2018 HNM report, which was commissioned by the department following sexual assault allegations at the school, also found that there was insufficient supervision and presence of teachers at Grade 8 camps.
He said following that finding, the school should have been on high alert on future trips, but it seemed not to have been the case.
Harris said the report found that the school governing body (SGB) and school management team (SMT) failed to give serious consideration to the findings and recommendations that were contained in the 2018 report.
"Accordingly, the SGB and SMT are found to have contravened the requirement to ensure adequate supervision of the Grade 8 camp, arising from their responsibility to respond to the school's legacy and also enforce the provisions of the school's safety policy."