South Africa, Johannesburg – The family of deceased Parktown Boys’ High School Grade 8 learner Enock Mpianzi said the Gauteng Department of Education’s initial settlement offer was a slap in the face.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed at a media briefing on Sunday that the family was made a R10 million settlement offer, which they rejected, and they issued a summons demanding R20m.
“Unfortunately, we disagreed and the family still insists that the department give them R20m as the settlement. This amount is way beyond what the department is in a position to afford,” Lesufi said.
The family’s attorney, Wikus Steyl, however, told The Star on Monday that the department was not being truthful about the initial settlement offer it had made.
“The department made one settlement offer in July or August for less than 5% of the R10m he (Lesufi) said they offered. The claim has always been for R20m, R10m per parent, so I don’t know where he got his information from,” Steyl said.
He added that the family felt affronted by the department’s initial settlement offer.
“The family said it was a slap in the face, they felt very affronted. No amount of money can bring back Enock, but such an offer was like a nuisance payment to get them to go away without addressing the actual problem,” Steyl said.
Responding to Steyl, GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said: “We can confirm that the department has provided them with an offer which was deemed appropriate as per the merit of the case and case law.”
Lesufi also announced on Sunday that the school’s principal, Malcolm Williams, had remained in the job until his dismissal appeal process was finalised.
He was dismissed in October after the department said the principal had failed to ensure a roll call was maintained throughout the trip and also undertook the excursion without prior approval from the department head.
Steyl said that the family was initially relieved when Williams was dismissed. However, when they heard that he was appealing his dismissal, this had opened up old wounds.
The learner’s tragic death sent waves of outrage across the country earlier this year after Mpianzi drowned at the Nyati Bush and River Break in the North West on the first day of school this year during a Grade 8 school camp.
In March, the forensic report compiled by Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys found that Williams, six teachers, the school and the GDE were all negligent in the teen’s death. The family faces their first Christmas without him.