- David Mackenzie was employed at St Andrew’s College (SAC) before abruptly resigning after he was found to have signed out two boys from the sanatorium against policy.
- He was dismissed last week by Reddam House Bedfordview for gross dishonesty and misrepresentation.
- SAC says it will conduct a review and has secured a retired judge to chair the process.
- Former and current pupils, parents and staff members will be welcome to make submissions during the review process.
The council of St Andrew’s College (SAC) in Makhanda has announced that a retired judge will independently chair a review board which will look into allegations against its embattled former water polo coach David Mackenzie.
The review board will also look into the school’s handling of those complaints at the time.
The claims against Mackenzie are detailed in My Only Story: Back to School, a six-part investigative podcast series looking at the death of 16-year-old Thomas Kruger. The investigation has revealed claims that the coach had inappropriate interactions with pupils at the prestigious all-boys Eastern Cape school.
The podcast series is a co-production by non-profit company My Only Story and News24.
Mackenzie has thus far declined to answer questions News24 has sent him in an attempt to elicit comment.
Last week, Reddam House Bedfordview in Johannesburg dismissed Mackenzie following a disciplinary hearing.
The teacher faced a hearing over claims that he was dishonest about his past.
Last week, St Andrew’s Council chairperson Jacko Maree announced that once all relevant information had been released, it would conduct a “full review of the school’s actions” in relation to complaints against Mackenzie.
St Andrew’s College
“I am pleased to announce that the highly respected retired Judge Dayalin Chetty has agreed to be the independent Chair of this Review Board. We are busy formulating its terms of reference, which will also include looking at the management practices and policies of the school. I will update you as soon as the process and procedure has been finalised,” Maree said in a communiqué to the Andrean school community on Tuesday.
In the letter dated 12 October 2021, which News24 has seen, the chairperson shared an extract from his address to the community on “Speech Day” last Monday.
In his address, the council chair said the school had “tried to be professional” in its responses and had been transparent in responding to questions in “what feels like a trial by media”.
He said as “painful and difficult” as it has been seeing the prestigious school’s name being attacked, “the harsh reality is that the reporting does expose certain incidents which have no place in our school.”
In the communiqué, Maree said he also believed the incidents reported were isolated and not widespread occurrences, but that no conclusion could be made until the council conducted a full review of the evidence and allegations.
According to the chairperson, during the review, current and former pupils, parents and staff members will be given an opportunity to bring any matters of concern to the council’s attention.
He said their identities will be protected.
Maree described the revelations against the ex-teacher and coach as “one of the saddest episodes in the school’s long history”.
He assured the school community that the issue will be dealt with “firmly but also sensitively”.
In a response to News24 on Tuesday, Maree said given that the terms of reference of the review were still being finalised, he could not comment on the time frames.
He reiterated that former and current Andrean community members will be given an opportunity to raise their concerns before the board.
Commenting on Mackenzie’s involvement in the process, Maree said: “We expect that David Mackenzie will be invited to participate in the review conducted by Judge Dayalin Chetty, but he cannot legally be compelled to do so.”
Responding to anonymous letter
In his letter to the Andrean community, Maree also informed parents about an anonymous letter written by a News24 reader to SAC following the revelations about Mackenzie.
The anonymous writer was abused when he was at high school.
“The author of the open letter also emailed a copy to me, disclosing his identity and contact details. I have subsequently responded directly to him,” Maree said.
He shared the full response with the school community.
Maree also informed parents about this week’s podcast episode.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our parents and staff members for their ongoing concern and support during this difficult time.
“I assure you that Council is mindful of its duty of care and will ensure that one of the saddest episodes in the school’s long history will be dealt with firmly but also sensitively.”
The podcast series was sparked by Kruger’s death on 18 November 2018 at the school’s sanatorium.
Since it premiered last month, the podcast revealed claims that Mackenzie had inappropriate social interactions with pupils at the school, including signing out a boy from the sanatorium against the school policy in June 2018.
Episode three of the podcast featured Richard Leach, who spoke about his experiences with Mackenzie, focusing on the coach’s water polo training techniques.
On several occasions, News24 has sent Mackenzie and his legal team lists of questions, offering him an opportunity to comment on the claims against him. He has declined to reply thus far.
In a response to questions about his dismissal from Reddam House, his legal representatives said: “Our client reserves his right to address and deal with any averments and/or questions at the appropriate time and/or forum. We trust that same is in order.”
Reddam House found Mackenzie guilty of gross dishonesty, misrepresentation, disregarding the school’s interest and “not being honest about the allegations that had been made against him in the media”.
“In her findings, the chairperson also indicated that Mr Mackenzie was incompatible with Reddam and its values. The recommended sanction by the chairman was summary dismissal, and Mr Mackenzie’s contract was then terminated on the strength of same with immediate effect as of yesterday,” Reddam House headmaster Stephen Hazley said at the time.
My Only Story episode four will be published on Thursday morning.
If you missed episodes one, two and three, listen here:
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