Court delay in cheating case a setback – pupils

Pupils whose 2022 matric results were withheld by the Mpumalanga department of education say they are disappointed the Mbombela High Court failed to deliver judgment on the matter, saying it denies them closure.

The affected pupils approached the court challenging the provincial department’s decision to withhold their results over allegations of widespread cheating in the Bohlabela district, which includes Bushbuckridge and Nelspruit.

The court’s verdict was expected on Friday but was not delivered, prompting concerns by the affected pupils and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) regarding the impact of the delays on the lives and careers of the implicated pupils.

“We are disappointed that the court did not release the outcome which we believe would have paved the way for the pupils and teachers who are implicated on the cheating scandals to continue with their lives,” said Sadtu provincial spokesperson Walter Hlaise.

Hlaise said the court delay is a serious problem because some teachers and pupils believed they would finally have a peaceful sleep after getting certainty about their futures and careers.

Some of the pupils, who hired advocate July Subuyi to take up their matter, shared Hlaise’s sentiment.

“I am also disappointed that the court did not release the outcome of the court case. We need to continue with our lives. If the court says the department is right by not releasing our results it’s also okay, we just need closure on this matter,” said Thando Khoza, one of the pupils.

Bennet Ndlovu, from Hlabekisa High School in Manyeleti, said he was also disappointed.

“Nobody told us anything about the outcome of the case. We need this to be done so we can continue with our lives. I was hoping that today I was going to be briefed about the case, so I can decide how to plan my future.”

Mpumalanga education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said he won’t comment as the case was still pending in court. “Given that the matter is now in court, the department regards it as sub judice and will prefer to co-operate with that process and to refrain from making public statements.

“Be that as it may, the view of the department is that the credibility and integrity of the examination are paramount, and that any wrongdoing must be dealt with in accordance with the policy framework which governs such an examination.”

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

Another document also seen by this paper 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.

Another letter from the Mpumalanga department of education, however, contradicted the second document, stating that “the department will offer you (pupils) to rewrite the affected subject papers in June 2023”.

The department denies allegations that it is dragging its feet in investigating irregularities in the 2022 grade 12 final exams.

A teacher who invigilated matric examinations and a provincial official said  the results had been released bit by bit after the cheating scandal broke.

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