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Law firm to probe learners’ drownings

The learners drowned while on a camp in Pretoria on April 15.

The Gauteng Department of Education will appoint an independent law firm to investigate the circumstances that led to the drownings of two Daveyton Skills School learners in Pretoria on April 15.

The boys, from Thembisa and aged 14 and 17, died at a discipline camp hosted by the Pretoria-based NPO Rising Stars Generation at the Rock Falls Adventure Ranch in Centurion.

Addressing members of the media at the school this morning (April 17), the MEC for Education, Matome Chiloane, said the report will assist them in finding out what exactly led to learners’ deaths.

One boy drowned while trying to save his friend.

“It won’t be a long report. We know what happened. The two children drowned in a dam. The one tried to save his friend, but the strength of the current also swept him away. That’s how we lost them,” said Chiloane.

He added, “We’ll give it a time frame and then come back and give you the outcomes. The outcomes of this law firm have been consistent. We’ve implemented their recommendations to the letter since their appointment. We’ll do the same with this case.”

The MEC said their preliminary investigation found that the district had not sanctioned the trip, there were no teachers, and only one social worker supervised the 90 children.

They were aged 14 and 17.
Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane has started an investigation into the drownings of two Daveyton Skills School learners.

Responding to whether anyone would be held responsible for what happened at the camp, Chiloane said their internal findings were enough to take action immediately.

“It’s not an ideal situation where we must take action against our educators or those responsible. The first detail of the internal report is that no one in the district knew the children had gone away. No educators formed part of the trip. It was just the social worker.

“The law firm will give us an external report about what happened during the trip.”

The Gauteng Department of Education has started an investigation to find out what led to the deaths of two Daveyton Skills School learners in Pretoria.

The MEC said that for his department, it’s a difficult time because this is the province’s third school excursion drowning incident this year.

He urged schools to put learner safety ahead of everything else by taking extra precautions on school trips, especially at destinations where there are swimming pools, dams and rivers.

“Don’t assume the situation will be okay where you are going. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that these trips come with repercussions. Every time, we have to come back and explain to the family what happened because they entrusted us with their child,” he said.

Daveyton Skills School.

Chiloane reiterated that learner safety should be paramount, adding that schools should stop hiding behind consent or indemnity forms.

“We can’t work with a disclaimer that the family signed a consent form that should anything happen to their child, the school is not responsible. We can’t do that anymore because it’s not right. It means you are conscious of the potential dangers that are there.”

Asked about his department’s long-term plan to stop such incidents, the MEC said they had implemented clear and comprehensive protocols that guide school trips and excursions.

“We’ve been clear. In the long-term, if trips continue to turn out this way, we will, unfortunately, continue acting against those who haven’t done their work until educators understand it’s people’s children they are dealing with,” Chiloane said.

Also Read: Lifeguards ignore near-drowning victim

Also Read: Water police concerned about increase in drownings

   

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