‘Charge principal and teachers for breaking law in pupil’s drowning’

The report of the independent investigation into the drowning of a 12-year-old pupil has recommended that the principal, deputy principal and teachers be charged with contravening various laws.

Law firm commissioned by department

This was revealed by Meshack Nchupetsang, representing Nchupetsang Incorporated Attorneys. The law firm was commissioned by the Gauteng department of education to probe the death of Latoya Temilton. She was a Grade 7 pupil at Laerskool Queenswood in Pretoria. 

Temilton drowned on January 20 at Wag ’n Bietjie Campsite in Olifantsfontein, in the East Rand. The venue was the site of a camp organised by the school to select head girls and head boys for the school.

The investigation into the death of Temilton at the camp found that that the principal, his deputy and teachers did not adhere to various regulations governing school excursions and the Children’s Act.

Not only did they lack knowledge and training on the regulation, they also did not seek parental consent in line with the regulations on excursions.

Violated various laws including Children’s Act

The school officials have also been found to have not fulfilled their obligations in accordance with the Children’s Act. This is to ensure the wellbeing of pupils under their care.

“We found that there was very little supervision, if any, by the educators on site. During our investigation it was only the facilitators of the camp [who] could give proper accounts [of what happened] and learners.

“All the educators, including the principal, could not see how Latoya drowned. But they could only give account after she downed,” said Nchupetsang.

Charge of misconduct also recommended

Nchupetsang  also recommended that the principal and educators be charged with misconduct. This for providing dishonest and falsified information in their testimonies.

Parts of the report were shared with the public during a media briefing held at the school on Tuesday. It said Temilton, who could not swim, was found at the bottom of the deep end of the pool. She was brought out of the pool by a fellow pupil.

Dysfunctional SGB

The report also revealed a dysfunctional school governing body (SGB) demonstrated by their little involvement in the matter. It recommended the election of a new SGB.

The campsite swimming pool was also found not to have been suitable for children. It also lacked safety measures such as lifejackets and lifeguards.

Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane said the department would implement the recommendations of the report to the tee.

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