Thursday, 8 August 2019

PUPIL SUSPENDED OVER DRUG ABUSE GOES TO COURT


A FORM Four pupil at Falcon College in Esigodini, who was suspended from attending school for alleged drug abuse, has approached the High Court challenging his expulsion.

The 15-year-old schoolboy, who is being assisted by his mother through their lawyers Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga and Partners, filed an application for review at the Bulawayo High Court.

In papers before the court, Falcon College Trust, its headmaster, Mr Reg Querl and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Professor Paul Mavima, were cited as respondents. 

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, wants an order nullifying his suspension from school. He wants the court to direct the respondents to allow him to resume lessons and other extra-curricular school activities as well as prepare for the final examinations in November. The boy was taken for laboratory drug tests in July and the results came out positive.

In his founding affidavit, he said he was denied his constitutional right to attend classes, arguing that the decision of the school authorities to suspend him was unjustified. He argued that he was not afforded a chance to make representations in his case.

“The decision to arbitrarily suspend me was taken without affording me the right to make representations and be heard in the presence of my guardian since I am a minor. It is in violation of my right to basic education and it was unreasonable and unjustifiable,” he said.

The schoolboy, who was suspended on July 17 this year for alleged drug abuse, said the decision to suspend him was unlawful and not supported by evidence. 

“The decision to suspend me was anchored on inadmissible evidence obtained in an unlawful manner that violated my human rights as a child in that I was taken for drug tests, which involved urine examination without the consent of my guardian. There is no evidence of misconduct of a serious nature I committed,” he said.

The applicants’ lawyers said his suspension was in violation of section 8 (1) of the Education (Disciplinary Powers) Regulations, 1998, arguing that his suspension exceeded the statutory limit of seven days. “This court, being the upper guardian of all children has jurisdiction to intervene and protect my best interests, including against the irrational conduct of my parents where it is detected. I submit that the decision of the first respondent (Falcon College Trust) to suspend me from the school is invalid and stands to be set aside” he said.

He said although Falcon College has a right to discipline him at the school, the chastisement must be lawful and exhibit respect and promotion of fundamental rights of learners.

In her supporting affidavit, his mother said the school did not conduct a disciplinary hearing to ascertain whether her son was guilty of taking prohibited drugs.

She said her son was taken to a hospital in Bulawayo for the purposes of testing him for drug abuse and urine test without her consent.

“Psychologically he was affected as he was made to believe that he was an outcast yet there was no tangible evidence of drugs in his possession nor did he display any suspicious behaviour other than that it being a discriminate random spot test,” she argued. 

The respondents are yet to respond. Chronicle

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