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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has requested the South African Police Service to assist with the investigation into the death of a Grade 10 learner at an Equal Education Leadership Camp.

According to a statement issued on Wednesday, the department said Avethandwa Nokhangela, 15, from Xolani High School in the Eastern Cape, passed away in a drowning incident, while taking part in an activity organised by the non-government organisation.

“The provincial department learnt of this incident when some members of the community raised their concerns following reports involving the death of a learner in the area. Members of the Sea Rescue service and the police assisted the department’s officials to piece together details of the incident,” the department said.

The department said it supports Eastern Cape MEC for Education, Fundile Gade, who has called for a full investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of the learner.

The department said the provincial department received information from the South African Police Service about the incident, after the body of the learner was recovered from one of the Buffalo Metro beaches.

“The delay by Equal Education in reporting the matter to the Provincial Education Department raises serious concerns.  In their letter, dated 1 May 2021, to Acting Eastern Cape Education Department Head of Department, Dr Soyisile Nuku, Equal Education state that they were in contact with the department only in the afternoon on Friday.

“A thorough investigation into the incident is required to ensure that all the facts are established and that those found responsible must be held to account for the unnecessary loss of life. The provincial department has already sent officials to the school to arrange psychosocial support for learners, particularly those who attended the Equal Education event, including those left behind at school, educators and the parents of the learner,” the department said.

The department has sent condolences to the bereaved family and friends, including the school community where the child attended.


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