According to Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona, the school was in Durban from 24 March 2022, where pupils were participating in a rugby tournament and were scheduled to return on 31 March 2022.
“On Sunday morning, the pupils and several teachers went swimming at Durban North beach, where some pupils were reportedly assisted to shore by lifeguards after experiencing challenges. Subsequent to a headcount, it was realised that two pupils were missing,” said Mabona.
“All pupils were accompanied back to the accommodation while the teachers proceeded to search the vicinity looking for the two missing pupils. The search went on until the evening with no success, after which the educators opened a missing persons case at Durban Central Police Station.”
On Monday, the educators were informed that the bodies of two grade 10 and grade 12 pupils had been discovered about 2km north of the beach from where they went swimming on Sunday.
Police are currently investigating circumstances surrounding the incident. The deceased pupils are from Birchleigh and Tembisa respectively.
The department’s psycho-social unit has been dispatched to counsel the school community of Hoërskool Birchleigh, and this counselling will continue upon return of the pupils from Durban.
“It’s disheartening that a positive sporting school trip that our learners passionately participated in ended in such a tragic manner. We convey our most heartfelt condolences to the two affected families and the school community at large,” said Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Meanwhile, Lesufi on Monday met with the SGB of Tsakane Secondary School and the family of a grade 10 pupil from Reshogofaditswe Secondary School, who was allegedly assaulted earlier this month, to introduce an investigative independent law firm that will be taking on the matter.
According to the department, the grade 10 pupil allegedly went to Tsakane Secondary School during schooling hours with a toy gun to fetch his phone.
“Subsequently, he was removed from the school premises by police and taken home after being involved in a scuffle with an educator and a general assistant at the school. His family later drove him to Pholosong Hospital, where he was certified dead,” said the department.