Parktown Boys’ High School principal Malcolm Williams was suspended on Friday, 10 days after Enock Mpianzi drowned in the Crocodile River in the North West, during a school trip.
Williams’ suspension was announced by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi during a media briefing on the progress of the investigation into the teenager’s death.
Mpianzi drowned during an orientation camp at the Nyati Bush River Break near Brits in the North West.
Lesufi said: “We have concluded that the principal of the school is the delegated authority with the responsibility for the safety of our pupils in schools. We have taken a decision to immediately suspend the principal of Parktown Boys and to serve him with a suspension letter in order for the investigation to proceed without hindrance.”
His suspension followed a public outcry for Williams to be axed after some accused the school of negligence in the Grade 8 pupil’s death.
Lesufi could not go into detail about the suspension, only confirming that Williams received the letter on Friday morning.
“The suspension letter was released this morning based on the preliminary report of the investigation but I cannot go into detail,” he said.
Lesufi said the camp was unauthorised by the department.
“The school made an application to the district to approve the trip. However, by the time the school embarked on this trip the district and head office had not approved the trip, thus making this trip to be an unauthorised activity,” he said.
“The laws are clear that for you to embark on a trip, you need to apply three months in advance,” Lesufi said.
Lesufi said although the school applied for the trip to take place, it should not have happened.
“The school indeed made an application on November 19 last year, which fell outside the required time limit for application,” he said
“Regardless of that we believe the district officials who handle this kind of communique should have either notified the school or they should have notified the head office.”
According to the school, the camp was “aimed at introducing new Parktonians to each other and creating an environment which focuses on team work and the achieving of common goals through various activities offered at the camp”.
Mpianzi went missing after a makeshift raft he and other boys were on overturned during a water activity. His body was recovered from the Crocodile River last Friday.
Lesufi said a memorial service would be held on Tuesday.