Pupils upset as high court denies urgent application

Pupils whose 2022 matric results were withheld over a cheating scandal say they are disappointed after the Mpumalanga High Court dismissed their urgent court application.

On Thursday, the court released its judgment virtually and struck the application off the roll for a lack of urgency, saying the urgency, if any, had been self-created.

More than 300 students from the Bohlabela region, which includes areas such as Bushbuckridge and Mbombela, launched an urgent court application to compel the Mpumalanga department of education to release their results.

They argued that withholding the results had negatively affected their futures and career prospects.

When delivering the verdict virtually, Judge Brian Mashile stated that after he assessed the case, he concluded there was no need for the urgent application. “I am acutely mindful of how critical education of the youth is in this country, but I cannot flout the rules governing urgency to accommodate them, especially in circumstances where they can still have substantial redress in the ordinary course. This matter is, therefore, not urgent or if it is, such urgency has been self-created. In the result, the application fails, and I make the following order, the application is struck off the urgent roll, and there shall be no order as to costs,” said Mashile.

Commenting on the judgment, one of the affected pupils, Thando Khoza, said they were shocked.

“Our legal team is in the process of appealing the judgment. Honestly, we are not happy about the outcome. So, we will interact with all the students to discuss the matter. I will not comment much about the matter now,” said a shattered Khoza.

Another student, who did not want to be named, shared the same sentiment.“I was hoping the court would assist us to get our results. We are disappointed, but we won’t lose hope.”

Advocate July Sibuyi, the lawyer for the matric-cheating suspects, confirmed that they were preparing to apply for leave to appeal the judgment. He said the next step would be to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

“As things stand, the case is yet to be heard. We are submitting the documents to the court for leave to appeal the decision of his excellency judge BA Mahsile,” Sibuyi said.

“We are hereby appealing the decision as per instructions to release the results. The application for leave to appeal will be heard by honourable BA Mashile. It is a procedure that the judge who heard the case will listen to the case. This step is not decisive, because it is not an appeal but only an application for leave to appeal whether they grant us or do not grant is immaterial.

“We shall then petition the Supreme Court of Appeal. We have raised constitutional grounds sections in court, but the judge did not even consider those aspects.”

Sibuyi said the judgment did not reflect their inputs, and added that they were ready to take the matter to the Constitutional Court if needs be.

Mpumalanga department of education spokesperson Jasper Zwane refused to comment on the court judgment. He referred the matter to Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for the department of basic education, who has not yet responded to the media inquiry sent to him through an email on Thursday.

Sunday World reported a few weeks ago that a leaked document from the Mpumalanga department showed that 128 pupils from different schools around Manyeleti near Hoedspruit were “investigated after being suspected of cheating during the 2022 grade 12 final exams”.

Another document also showed that 37 students who were found guilty of cheating were given letters informing them that they would have to rewrite the subjects in November 2024. However, another letter from the same department contradicted this, stating that “the department will offer you (students) to rewrite the affected subject papers in June 2023”.

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