South Africa

Parktown Boys

Enock Mpianzi’s mother cries out for drowned son at memorial service

Itamba Guy, right, and Anto Mpianzi, Enock Mpianzi's parents, at the memorial service at Parktown Boys High School for his son who drowned at a Grade 8 orientation camp in January 2020. (Photo: Chanel Retief)

Family and friends of Enock Mpianzi gathered to pay tribute to the 13-year-old who died during a ‘water activity’ at a school orientation camp.

“Enock was humble and respectful,” Enock Mpianzi’s brother Shadrach Mpianzi said at a memorial service for the boy which was held at Parktown Boys High School on Tuesday 28 January. 

The school hall was filled with boys from the school as well as some parents of pupils. Friends from Enock’s former primary school, Brixton Primary, also came to the service to pay their respects and share fond memories of Enock. 

Enock Mpianzi’s brothers at the memorial service. (Photo: Chanel Retief)

“I was Enock’s best buddy. Enock’s friend,” said Mpho Molelekeng. “We shared good memories together. He was a kind boy. He used to joke. He was always friendly. He never fought with anyone.”

Enock went missing on Wednesday 15 January during a water activity at Parktown Boys High School’s annual Grade 8 camp at the Nyati Bush and River Breakaway in Brits, North West. The activity required the learners to build a makeshift raft using objects around them like wooden poles and shoelaces. 

Parktown Boys High School in Johannesburg gathered on Tuesday 28 January 2020 in the school hall to pay tribute to Enock Mpianzi. (Photo: Chanel Retief)

The learners sailed the raft across the Crocodile River where it capsized. Witnesses confirmed that they saw Enock struggle in the water.

On Thursday 16 January, parents, authorities and the MEC for Gauteng Education, Panyaza Lesufi, were informed that the boy had disappeared. 

On Friday morning, Lesufi announced that Enock’s body had been found. 

Enock Mpianzi’s mother Anto Mpianzi, right, and a relative could not contain their grief. (Photo: Chanel Retief)

The cries of Enock’s mother, Anto Mpianzi, echoed through the school hall. 

“Enock, Enock, where are you? Why me? Oh God. My baby,” she could be heard crying. 

Enock’s parents sat on stage with Lesufi and members of staff from Parktown Boys and Brixton Primary. 

Brixton Primary teacher Mapule Modipa-Xaba shared what an honour it had been when Enock was accepted for admittance to Parktown Boys High.

Mpho Molelekeng and other Brixton Primary school classmates came to the service to pay their respects as well as share the fond memories they have of Enock Mpianzi. (Photo by Chanel Retief)

“We had hopes that our little school would make the news because of Enock’s achievements,” Modipa-Xaba said. “It never crossed our mind that this would happen. Enock went to a camp pulling his bag and then he came back in a body bag.”

Former classmates of Enock’s sang in front of the gathering, bidding farewell to the pupil they believed would have made a big difference in South Africa. 

“I asked Enock what he wants to be when he grows up and he said a lawyer,” Mpho Molelekeng said. “I asked why and he said because he wanted to bring justice to this country.” 

Throughout the ceremony, it was noted that Enock was an extremely dedicated Christian who was also very intelligent. 

“My problem with him was that he never studied but he was intelligent,” said Shadrach Mpianzi. “He proved me wrong most of the time. Every time I told him he was going to fail if he didn’t study he just looked at me with that face you know.

“He did not have to try hard. He just did him. And he proved me wrong most of the time and I am happy that he proved me wrong in that department.” 

Enock’s other brother, Steve Mpianzi, recalled that Enock was a gregarious person who was compassionate and forgiving.

“My brother was a very grateful and social person,” Steve said. “He had many friends. He liked being surrounded by positivity. That is the reason why he’s smiled in most of his pictures. My brother would never hold a grudge against me. We were like Tom and Jerry.” 

Lesufi also addressed the gathering. 

“It’s becoming normal to issue death certificates rather than report cards,” he said.

“Enock is no more. We hope to believe that his death has spoken for many kids out there.” DM

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