Matric learners from Mpumalanga who were accused of being part of a massive cheating scandal during last year’s matric exams have been dealt another blow by the courts in their fight to have their results released.
The Mpumalanga High Court has struck the case off the urgent roll, saying the urgency was “self-created” and that the pupils “failed to exhaust the internal dispute resolution mechanism”.
Mpumalanga Judge Brian Mashile added that the learner’s did not file a notice stating whether or not they were amenable or opposed to mediation.
The learners enlisted lawyers to assist them after they claimed the cheating allegations were unfounded and called on provincial education authorities to release their results.
They are now seeking to challenge Judge Mashile’s judgment.
Hundreds of pupils from more than 20 schools had their results in certain subjects nullified.
The learners had some of their results for certain subjects blocked as the department flagged “irregularities” in their exam papers. Their results were delayed to be released at the end of February, however, the learners fought for earlier release of results, saying they would have missed their opportunities to enter tertiary institutions during the first semester.
They approached the courts on an urgent basis to set aside the Department’s decision to nullify their results. They further claimed that the Department did not furnish them with adequate particulars of the charges against them and that the hearings they attended were not done properly, and there were no records of the hearings.
While Judge Mashile said he was “acutely mindful” how critical education of the youth is in this country, he could not 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,” he wrote in his judgment.
Speaking to IOL, one of the learners and applicants in the case, Jabulile Mabaso said she is battling depression over the situation and is close to giving up.
“I feel like South Africa has failed me as a dedicated learner who always dreamed of a brighter future. I am mentally and emotionally depressed by sitting at home and watching other kids pursue their education while am deprived at home,” she said.
Mabaso intended on pursuing her studies toward a Bachelor of Law (LLB) at the University of Western Cape this year.
The Department has maintained that the learner’s results would remain nullified and have given the affected pupils the option to sit for their matric exams in 2024.
But, Mabaso said the entire situation has left them feeling attacked and not heard. She said the charges were not made clear to them, the wait to write the matric exam next year again was unbearable and they were losing hope.
“Every Friday I watch and observe some teenagers with no hope getting ready for taverns and I ask myself if that's also where I am heading? I ask myself if that is the future of a vulnerable black child in South Africa?
“The pain I am feeling right now is unbearable, more especially when (the department and court) says this is not an urgent matter.
“I'm doing nothing. My life is a mess right now, I'm depressed and stressed about the whole situation,” she said.