Hilton College, situated in the KZN Midlands, confirmed yesterday that 26 senior pupils were allegedly abusing the drug.
The school, which ranks as one of the most expensive private schools in the country, said one of the pupils is alleged to have been using and distributing the substance and has been suspended.
Hilton’s marketing director Peter Storrar said another pupil, who was also implicated, had been suspended pending a disciplinary enquiry.
“At that stage, his parents elected to withdraw him from the school altogether,” said Storrar.
Headmaster George Harris said investigations grew out of a number of admissions of guilt around the use of dagga at the school ranging from once-off experimentation, to use on one or two occasions and the use of the substance on multiple occasions.
“I have, in the interest of finding a lasting solution to this scourge, offered amnesty to some of the transgressors who voluntarily confessed their participation,” he said.
Harris said the boys will all be punished appropriately.
“Boys who were implicated but who did not come forward and claim the amnesty will now be subjected to our normal disciplinary processes and procedures,” he said.
Storrar said as traumatic as this has been for the families involved, the school wanted to use the incident as an opportunity to confront a “scourge that our society faces”, which puts teenagers at risk.
“We have therefore acted swiftly, honestly, boldly and transparently.”
Harris added that the incident has been a “sobering process” for the establishment, and has served to emphasise the school’s stance which is opposed to any form of substance abuse.
“We believe that this practice is damaging and stunts positive growth in adolescents and we continually communicate this fact and the disciplinary consequences which will follow if a boy transgresses,” he said.
The headmaster requested parents to help their sons understand that they remained minors until they reached 18 and that the law is there to protect them from themselves.
He said as long as his pupils are schoolboys, they may not use alcohol or drugs and encouraged parents to enforce this rule over the holidays.
KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said no case had been reported to the Hilton police.