St Andrew’s College sets date and terms of reference for examining complaints against former water polo coach

  • St Andrew’s College says a review committee report will be presented to council in January.
  • The process will take two weeks, starting November 8.
  • Current and former students, parents and staff will be allowed to make presentations; mo Anonymous complaints will be accepted.

Makhanda’s St Andrew’s College (SAC) has finalized its mandate for the review board that will investigate the allegations against its former water polo coach, David Mackenzie.

The review committee would also analyze how complaints against Mackenzie were handled when they were brought to the attention of the school administration between 2017 and 2018.

According to SAC board chairman Jacko Maree, the review would begin its work on November 8. The process was to take two weeks and a report is expected to be filed with the school next year.

The review process, chaired by retired Judge Dayalin Chetty, would investigate and draw conclusions about the conduct of Mackenzie, senior staff and Principal Alan Thompson during Mackenzie’s tenure at the school. The board would also make recommendations.

Mackenzie was fired from his last employer, Reddam House Bedfordview, three weeks ago.

He was convicted of gross dishonesty and misrepresenting his past.

READ | Another water polo coach suspended from college amid News24 / My Only Story investigation

Mackenzie was assistant house master at Espin House, one of the six boarding houses at St Andrew’s College. He abruptly resigned in June 2018 after being told he would face a disciplinary hearing after he allegedly violated school policies and expelled a student from the sanatorium.

The boy, who lived in another hostel, Armstrong House, was found in Espin, where Mackenzie had an apartment.

Another staff member found messages of an intimate nature between Mackenzie and the student, which News24 saw.

Claims against Mackenzie are detailed in My only story: back to school, a six-part investigative podcast series into the death of 16-year-old Thomas Kruger. The investigation also revealed allegations that the coach had inappropriate interactions with students at the prestigious Eastern Cape School.

The podcast series is a co-production of My Only Story and News24.

Mackenzie declined to answer News24 questions throughout the live investigation.

Last month, he approached the High Court in Port Elizabeth to try to ban the podcast from being broadcast. He subsequently withdrew the urgent request.

What you need to know about hearings

The review board hearings would be held in the Kannemeyer boardroom at the SAC.

Virtual platforms would also be made available to witnesses who cannot be physically present.

Current and former students, parents and staff would be allowed to lodge complaints.

According to Maree, the review board would investigate, make findings and recommendations and review the live investigation revelations over the past five weeks.

READ | Retired judge to lead review of evidence against former St Andrew’s College water polo coach

Chetty, as chair, would work with other members, which included senior retired teachers.

Mike van der Veen would be the independent lawyer acting as a director of the board.

Maree said all information presented to the board will be treated confidentially. All complaints should be sent to the administrator indicating the relevant information.

The board administrator would then decide whether the complaint fell within the mandate and submit it to the board.

No anonymous complaints

According to the chairman of the board, a serious complaint must be made in writing, in the form of numbered paragraphs. Complaints should contain supporting facts and evidence, where applicable.

Chetty would have the final say on whether or not to admit a filed complaint.

No anonymous complaints will be accepted.

“However, all submissions will be subject to solicitor-client privilege and all witnesses before the review board may request to present their evidence anonymously. The final report and recommendations of the review board will not identify neither are the witnesses who asked to remain anonymous, ”says Marée.

The board would also report on how incidents of sexual abuse, grooming, bullying, violence and substance abuse have been handled from January 2015.

It would also indicate whether Maree reacted appropriately to complaints he had previously received about Mackenzie and whether the legal affairs member of the board reacted appropriately to the circumstances that led Mackenzie to resign from SAC.

What will happen after the review process is complete?

The school board must present its report to the school council in January 2022.

Maree said the board would then determine which parts of the board’s findings and recommendations would be made public and which findings and recommendations would be implemented.

“While there has been no evidence of any reportable offense or sexual misconduct in connection with David Mackenzie’s tenure at St Andrew’s College presented by News24 (or any other person) to date, we are all deeply concerned about the revelations and [the] emerging image presented by the ongoing News24 / My Only Story series, ”he said.

He added that the board was confident that the review board would thoroughly investigate the relevant allegations and complaints.

READ ALSO | Inside water polo coach David Mackenzie’s iPhone messages to schoolchildren and colleagues

Two weeks ago, News24 and My Only Story uncovered a consistent pattern of inappropriate behavior on Mackenzie’s part through more than 80,000 WhatsApp messages he sent to dozens of schoolchildren he trained, in other teachers, coaches and parents of SAC students.

The tens of thousands of WhatsApp messages analyzed by News24 contained no child pornography, but dozens of prime examples, as pointed out by Luke Lamprecht, child protection expert and advocacy manager at Women and Men Against Child Abuse. .

There were also several photographs of shirtless boys drinking or smoking what appeared to be dagga and, in one case, a boy clearly naked from waist to toe.

The messages also revealed that Mackenzie maintained regular contact with a group of SAC boys nine months after quitting school ahead of his disciplinary hearing.

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