Pretoria - A teenage girl has made a passionate plea to a North Gauteng High Court judge not to force her to go back to an elite Afrikaans school in Pretoria as she hates it.
On Monday, her father enrolled her in a school in a Free State town where she wants to be with friends. But this is against her mother’s wishes and contrary to an earlier court order in terms of which her mother has custody of the girl.
The parents are divorced and the teenager stayed in a hostel while at school in Pretoria. On a sports bursary, the teenager has been complaining for a while that she was unhappy at her school.
After visiting her father at the weekend, the 14-year-old refused point blank to go back to the school and threatened to harm herself.
Her worried father, without consulting the mother, enrolled her at a school in the Free State.
He said he could simply not allow his child to be unhappy.
The child, now in Grade 8, attended primary school in the town and all her friends went to the high school there.
However, her mother turned to court for an urgent order for the child to return to her Pretoria school. It was in her daughter’s best interest to attend this school as she excels in sport and academics.
On Tuesday, the teen wrote a letter to Judge Dawie Fourie which was handed to him on Wednesday.
It read: “Dear Judge… It was so nice to walk into school yesterday (Monday) and to see all the familiar faces. I immediately felt at home and that I belong here.
“I am at my happiest where I am now.
It is wonderful to be in a class where I know everyone, where they are friendly and where they are interested in me… If I had a choice I want to stay here,” she wrote.
In a letter to her lawyer, whom she addressed as “uncle”, she pleaded with him to state her case to court.
She expressed her unhappiness at the Pretoria school and said she was there on a sports bursary, but sport was being emphasised and “it’s just getting too much”.
She tried to express her unhappiness to her mother, who lives in another town, but her mother refused to listen. It was argued, on behalf of the father, that a curator be appointed to represent the child in court, so her voice could be heard. She scored a 76 percent average in her exams and was thus equipped to have a say.
Judge Fourie questioned why the father did not sit down with the mother and discuss the matter. The father said he might have been wrong in this regard, but the child should not be punished for this.
The judge said he wanted to make an order which was right for everyone and he needed more facts. He was also not going to allow “a gun to be held to my head”.
“I don’t know what is going on in the child’s head… Is she a naughty child or really unhappy? Does she just want to be with her friends or is there perhaps a boyfriend?”
The judge said the interests of the parents should be set aside to determine what was in the best interest of the child.
He ordered the office of the Family Advocate and lawyers at the University of Pretoria’s Law Clinic to investigate the child’s situation and report back to him on August 15.
The girl will remain in her new school for now.