My Only Story

Season 2: Back to School

It started with a random scrap of paper, which led to a story of tragic heroes, colourful villains and a teenage boy's violent - and possibly avoidable - death.

In this new season of My Only Story, Johannesburg writer Deon Wiggett wades through cryptic text messages, treks through a dozen South African schools, and unearths a group of vicious teachers across the country, who help themselves to the children in their care.

Read the stories

'I don't want to be without you': Ex-St Andrew's water polo coach's 'flirty' texts to boys revealed

Embattled school water polo coach David Mackenzie advised a pupil from St Andrew's College (SAC) in Makhanda on WhatsApp to "flirt" with a fellow teacher who "wanted [the pupil's] d**k".

An investigation by News24 and My Only Story, a non-profit company, has uncovered a consistent pattern of inappropriate behaviour by Mackenzie, through more than 80 000 WhatsApp messages sent by him to scores of schoolboys he coached, fellow teachers, coaches and parents of pupils at SAC.

OPINION | Theuns Opperman: David Mackenzie saga - The importance of duty of care to our pupils

In light of the David Mackenzie incident, the head of an independent school, Theuns Opperman, writes that more training needs to be given to educators and house masters to see the signs of predatory and grooming behaviour. Opperman also writes that schools need to be concerned about the duty of care towards pupils rather than just concerns around a school's image.

Retired judge to lead review of evidence against embattled ex-St Andrew's College water polo coach

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.

BREAKING | Reddam House dismisses David Mackenzie for 'gross dishonesty, misrepresentation' following News24/MyOnlyStory investigation

Reddam House Bedfordview in Johannesburg has dismissed David Mackenzie following a disciplinary hearing held on Monday.

The former St Andrew's College (SAC) teacher faced a disciplinary hearing over claims that he was dishonest about his past. 

In a communique to parents on Thursday, which News24 has seen, Reddam House headmaster Stephen Hazley announced that Mackenzie was found guilty of gross dishonesty and misrepresentation. 

Coach David Mackenzie faces disciplinary hearing after claims of inappropriate behaviour emerge

Former St Andrew's College (SAC) water polo coach David Mackenzie is facing a disciplinary hearing with his current employer, Reddam House Bedfordview, over claims he was dishonest about his past.

St Andrew's council to conduct review of school's actions following complaints against ex-water polo coach

The council of St Andrew's College (SAC) says "once all relevant information has been released", it will conduct a "full review of the school's actions" in relation to complaints over the behaviour of former water polo coach David Mackenzie.

'It was inappropriate, wrong' - David Mackenzie's touchy water polo tactics questioned

My Only Story Season 2: Back to School is a podcast series and live investigation. A former pupil of beleaguered water polo coach and teacher David Mackenzie has spoken out about how he allegedly touched the genitals of the boys he coached in the swimming pool.

"If I knew what I knew now back then, then I definitely would have spoken to someone or spoken up about it because it was inappropriate and it was wrong," says Richard Leach, a former St Andrew's College (SAC) pupil who joined the school in Grade 8 in 2017.

David Mackenzie, school coach accused of inappropriate behaviour, drops bid to block News24 investigation

Former St Andrew’s College water polo coach David Mackenzie has abandoned an urgent application to interdict News24 and non-profit company My Only Story from further publishing a live investigation into the treatment of children.

Adriaan Basson | The crisis of sexual predators moonlighting as teachers

Our society urgently needs to stand up, speak out and act against sexual predators who become teachers to prey on children, writes Adriaan Basson.

David Mackenzie asked to step down from Eastern Gauteng Schools Waterpolo, pending probe

Teacher and coach Dave Mackenzie has been asked to step down from Eastern Gauteng Schools Waterpolo, pending the outcome of an investigation.

Reddam places David Mackenzie on precautionary suspension after News24/My Only Story podcast

Reddam House Bedfordview in Johannesburg has placed one of its teachers, David Mackenzie, on precautionary suspension amid reports of his abrupt exit at a former employer in 2018.

"Although, at this stage, we have no evidence of any breach of our staff code of conduct, we have placed the staff member involved on a precautionary suspension, pending the outcome of an investigation," Reddam House headmaster Stephen Hazley said in a communique to parents on Thursday.

'We can still do things': Top school's coach quits ahead of hearing for sneaking pupil out

A top South African water polo coach abruptly resigned from the prestigious St Andrew's College (SAC) in the Eastern Cape after facing disciplinary charges over an incident in which he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

After teachers became aware of the pupil's absence, and the full details of the incident became known, the teacher was informed he would face disciplinary action related to the incident. He resigned shortly thereafter. 

'No words to express the loss of a child': Father of boy, 16, who hanged himself at prestigious school, seeks answers

Time heals all wounds, but for a grieving Eastern Cape father, the ticking of time's hands serves only to remind him of the many unanswered questions that consume him since his son's death at one of the country's most prestigious private schools in 2018.

The death by suicide of 16-year-old Thomas Kruger, a Grade 10 pupil at St Andrew's College at the time, remains a mystery for his distraught father, Charl.

Almost three years on since his son's tragic death, Charl, a financial advisor, said he believed there was more to the angst and suffering that made his son take that fateful step.

'We take our duty of care seriously' - St Andrew's College in wake of podcast on boy, 16, who hanged himself

The headmaster at St Andrew's College says they are unaware of any predatory behaviour by a staff member, which could have caused Thomas Kruger's death.

"There was an article and podcast published by News24 today (Thursday) that suggested the death of Thomas Kruger, in 2018, was related to predatory behaviour by a staff member at the time," headmaster Alan Thompson said in a communique to the school community on Thursday.

He said only limited information was shared in the episode and "we are thus unaware of the exact nature of the allegations".

The devastation of never knowing why - the continued struggle of parents of children who take their own lives

It's normal for families that have lost loved ones by suicide to seek answers because not knowing what happened to them or what they were going through causes more devastation, says clinical psychologist Liane Lurie.

Lurie, who specialises in, among others, bullying, self-harm, depression and anxiety, spoke to News24 late in August.

"For this particular family (the Krugers), I think it's really important that we stress that suicide is sometimes an impulsive act and at other times, it's something that's planned.

"And so, for them, they will never know what actually happened right before and I think for the family, that's even more devastating because what kind of closure can they have," Lurie said. 

The teenager was a promising water polo player at the all-boys boarding school.

He hanged himself in the toilet of the school's sanatorium window after he was sent back from a school excursion.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.Thomas Kruger at Pride Rock in Makhanda. Picture: Supplied.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.Thomas Kruger at Pride Rock in Makhanda. Picture: Supplied.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

David McKenzie, the teacher who resigned from St Andrew's College after it came to light he signed a boy out of the school's hospital at night, without authorisation.

Thomas Kruger at Pride Rock in Makhanda. Picture: Supplied.

Thomas Kruger. Picture: Supplied.

Thomas Kruger at Pride Rock in Makhanda. Picture: Supplied.

Thomas Kruger at Pride Rock in Makhanda. Picture: Supplied.


Who is David Mackenzie?


In November 2017, David Mackenzie submitted an audition tape to compete in Survivor South Africa; he chose 16-year-old Thomas Kruger as his videographer.

In November 2017, David Mackenzie submitted an audition tape to compete in Survivor South Africa; he chose 16-year-old Thomas Kruger as his videographer.

Reddam House has charged David Mackenzie for not disclosing past investigations against him. The former St Andrew's College water polo coach was attending his disciplinary hearing in Fourways, Johannesburg on Monday.

Reddam House has charged David Mackenzie for not disclosing past investigations against him. The former St Andrew's College water polo coach was attending his disciplinary hearing in Fourways, Johannesburg on Monday.


News24 and My Only Story are in possession of text message exchanges between David Mackenzie and a pupil, during his tenure at St Andrew’s College in the Eastern Cape, as well as video in which Mackenzie is seen to be engaging in seemingly inappropriate conduct with pupils.


A screenshot of a video in which David Mackenzie is seen to be engaging in seemingly inappropriate behavior with pupils at St Andrew's College.

A screenshot of a video in which David Mackenzie is seen to be engaging in seemingly inappropriate behavior with pupils at St Andrew's College.

A screenshot of a video in which David Mackenzie is seen to be engaging in seemingly inappropriate behavior with pupils at St Andrew's College.

A WhatsApp thread between David Mackenzie and a former colleague shows they discussed the physique of Mackenzie's water polo team at Grey College in Bloemfontein.

Messages between David Mackenzie and a St Andrew's College pupil show that the coach wanted to get the boy a spot at Grey College Bloemfontein. Mackenzie was appointed there shortly after he left the Makhanda school.

David Mackenzie messaged a St Andrew's College pupil after abruptly resigning in 2018 following an incident where he signed a boy out of the school's sanatorium.

The thousands of WhatsApp messages between David Mackenzie and his former pupils reveal relationships of a far more intimate and familiar nature.

A screenshot of a video in which David Mackenzie is seen to be engaging in seemingly inappropriate behavior with pupils at St Andrew's College.

A WhatsApp thread between David Mackenzie and a former colleague shows they discussed the physique of Mackenzie's water polo team at Grey College in Bloemfontein.

Messages between David Mackenzie and a St Andrew's College pupil show that the coach wanted to get the boy a spot at Grey College Bloemfontein. Mackenzie was appointed there shortly after he left the Makhanda school.

David Mackenzie messaged a St Andrew's College pupil after abruptly resigning in 2018 following an incident where he signed a boy out of the school's sanatorium.

The thousands of WhatsApp messages between David Mackenzie and his former pupils reveal relationships of a far more intimate and familiar nature.


This series discusses suicide and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it troubling. If anything comes up for you while listening to the podcasts or reading the articles, please talk to someone. If you're in South Africa, you can phone SADAG on 0800 456 789.