Bullied matriculant overcomes legal wrangle

2011-01-08 19:50

Krugersdorp matriculant Edwin Botha (19) did not achieve his goal of five distinctions, instead achieving only two.

But this time last year he was unsure if he would even be promoted to Grade 12, and it took him a court case to get there.

The court case was to allow Botha a promotion even though he had not written his Grade 11 final exams.

According to Botha, the biggest challenge was “not to get distracted by the court case and all the emotions ­involved.

I also needed to get myself to forgive those who tried to destroy me”.

Botha began as a star ­pupil of Hoërskool Noordheuwel in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, and was appointed deputy head boy at the end of 2009.

However, when he refused to partake in ­initiation practices things ­started falling apart.

Botha says: “I was diagnosed with GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) in March 2009. ­

During the initiation I was ­singled out and due to the ­actions of the school bullies, I had a complete emotional ­breakdown.”

He missed his Grade 11 final exams and would have been ­denied entry to Grade 12.

According to Botha, the ­principal said he would be ­promoted based on his Grade 11 term marks, and when this did not happen, the Botha family went to court.

They won the case and Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Charles Phahlane was reported as saying at the time that Botha had provided a valid medical certificate to excuse himself from his exams, and based on his Grade 11 performance they would promote him without ­delay.

This allowed him to ­continue into matric last year.

The court ruled that he had to be taken into matric, but he did not have to be granted all previous honours awarded to him by the school.

“I was stripped of all previous recognition and refused basic things like my academic, cultural and leadership colours,” says Botha.

To Botha, matric is a final stepping stone towards his ­career and further studies.He will be studying business science this year and says: “My final goal is to obtain my ­doctorate before the age of 25.

I will also enter the family business this year to obtain all ­relevant practical experience,” he says, “which will complement my studies.”

Hoërskool Noordheuwel ­principal Dr Jac Fourie refused to comment, citing ongoing ­legal matters.

Botha is, however, unaware of pending legal ­matters related to his case.

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