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Ndebele magistrate frustrate Ndebele activists' ConCourt referral bid

by Staff reporter
25 Oct 2016 at 06:29hrs | Views

THE four Lupane villagers, accused of storming Mlamuli Secondary School headmistress, Millet Bonyongwe's office demanding her immediate transfer, last week lost their bid to have the matter referred to the Constitutional Court (Concourt), as presiding magistrate, Ndumo Masuku insisted that they should answer to the violence charges they were facing, the Newsday reported.

The suspects - school development committee (SDC) chairman, Mbuso Nkomo, fellow villagers, Mbonisi Khoza, Peter Ndlovu and Thabani Sibanda - allegedly stormed Bonyongwe's office in June this year demanding that she leaves the school, as she was a non-Ndebele speaker.

When the matter was brought to court for trial, the four claimed they had a constitutional right to protest, hence, their bid to have the matter referred to the ConCourt.

Masuku remanded the matter to November 1 for commencement of trial.

In their application, the villagers, through their lawyer Dumisani Dube, had submitted that their prosecution was a violation of their constitutional rights, freedom of assembly and association as enshrined in section 58(1), freedom to demonstrate and petition as enshrined in section 59, freedom of conscience as enshrined in section 60, language and culture, as enshrined in section 63 and political rights, as enshrined in section 67(2)(d) of the Constitution.

They said on January 28, 2016, an SDC meeting was held at the school and parents expressed concern over teachers' use of the Shona language in a predominantly Ndebele region.

They resolved that the Ministry of Education, through the district education officer, be advised. Parents demanded the transfer of the non-Ndebele speaking teachers, including Bonyongwe.

The district education officer then reportedly wrote to the Matabeleland North provincial education director for advice.

On February 1, 2016, the provincial education director wrote back to say the province was considering the issue.

On June 23, the SDC met and ordered the parents to stop sending their children to school until Bonyongwe was transferred.

Four days later, the suspects allegedly besieged the school, ordered the pupils to go back home and confiscated Bonyongwe's home keys, while demanding that she immediately leaves.

Source - newsday