Pupils who drowned at camp were abused, family tells MEC

The family of one of the two pupils from Daveyton Skills School in Benoni, who drowned during a discipline camp in Centurion, north of Pretoria, has alleged that the pupils were physically assaulted and mistreated.

The family also alleged that after the conclusion of the camp, the pupils were dropped off at a filling station in Thembisa, east of Johannesburg, and made to walk home.

This was revealed by  after visiting the family of 17-year-old Sibusiso Sibiya, one of the pupils who drowned on Monday afternoon.

Discipline camp

Sibiya and Siphamandla Peterson, aged 15, drowned in the Hennops River.

They were attending a discipline camp at Rock Falls Adventure Ranch, which took place between Friday and Monday.

The camp was organised by a non-government organisation Rising Stars Generation.

Chiloane visited the school and families of the deceased pupils on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media after visiting the Sibiya family, Chiloane said: “The family brought it to our attention that the kids were abused and assaulted there [at the camp] as part of exercise.

Other forms of abuse raised

“It was a discipline camp. There are other forms of abuse that the family raised with us. The law firm will investigate all of this and report back to us.

“[Based on the findings of the law firm], we will report this to the police or the department of community safety if we must.

“It is quite unfortunate that we did not get this information [about pupils being allegedly assaulted at camp] from the principal. Ideally, we were supposed to get this from the principal.”

It is alleged that Peterson jumped into the river, and Sibiya followed in an attempt to rescue him. Both drowned in the process.

15-year-old Daveyton Skills School pupil Siphamandla Peterson

Chiloane said the department will present the law firm that will investigate to the school and families of the deceased pupils.

The trip was not authorised

The law firm will also be given timeframes for when to complete its investigation.

Chiloane said, based on the department’s preliminary investigations, the trip or camp was not authorised by the department, adding that there were no educators or lifeguards during the trip.

Only one social worker was present to take care of 90 pupils during the trip.

Said the MEC: “We will institute an independent law firm to assist us to get to the bottom of the matter and assist us as to what happened.

“This was a school trip, and we do have a preliminary report internally, of which it is adequate to take action immediately.

“The trip was not sanctioned by anyone in the higher office, and no one in the district department knew that the kids had gone away.

“There were no educators on the trip, and there was just one social worker there alone with the children.”

Steve Mabona, the spokesperson for the department, said after the pupils had drowned, the incident was reported to emergency medical services and the police.

He said the emergency crews managed to recover the bodies of the pupils.

Gauteng police spokesperson, Captain Tintswalo Sibeko, said an inquest docket has been opened for investigation.

Blame the school officials

In a separate incident two weeks ago, a report of the independent investigation into the drowning of 12-year-old Latoya Temilton recommended that the principal, deputy principal and teachers be charged with contravening various laws.

This was according to Meshack Nchupetsang, who is a representative of Nchupetsang Incorporated Attorneys.

The department hired the law firm to look into Temilton’s death, who was a grade 7 pupil at Laerskool Queenswood in Pretoria.

Temilton drowned on January 20 at Wag ’n Bietjie Campsite in Olifantsfontein in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.

An investigation found that the principal, his deputy, and the teachers did not adhere to various regulations governing school excursions and the Children’s Act.

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