Hijacker pupil expelled

2013-06-26 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG pupil who hijacked a car last year to get money for a dance was expelled from Linpark High School in terms of a high court order granted yesterday.

The school and its governing body approached the court to review the failure of the head of KZN’s Education Department, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, to take a decision to expel Luthando Ntuthuko Buthelezi (18) from the school.

The order was granted by Judge David Ntshangase.

It was not opposed.

This was the second time this year that the high court has intervened to enable provincial public schools to expel problem pupils.

In May this year the high court granted authority to Vryheid High to expel a Grade 12 pupil who stabbed a school-mate on the sports field, and to Northern Park Primary school to expel a pupil said to have shown violent behaviour towards a teacher and serious forms of misconduct.

In the case of Buthelezi, the chairperson of the governing body of Linpark High, Anthony Borain, said in an affidavit before court the pupil had confessed to hijacking a car at gunpoint in order to get money for a “spring ball”. This was not an official school function, he added.

Borain said Buthelezi (then 17 years old) had confessed to the crime, but instead of facing a criminal trial “as an adult”, he was diverted to anti-crime organisation Nciro, with the victim’s agreement, and did community service.

Following a disciplinary hearing on February 6 this year, the governing body found him guilty of the hijacking and of conducting himself in a “disgraceful, improper or unbecoming manner”, and recommended he be expelled.

Borain said the evidence received by the disciplinary tribunal was that Buthelezi hijacked a car to raise funds for the ball after “scouting around a specific residential neighbourhood” and observing the movements of a female resident.

He placed a rock in the woman’s driveway, forcing her to stop and get out of her car to move the rock.

“He then, with the use of an illegal firearm, demanded the keys to her motor vehicle, threatening to shoot her should she not comply,” said Borain.

Buthelezi drove away with the vehicle and sold it two days later for R4 000, which he spent on himself and his partner for the ball.

Borain said the head of the KZN Education Department, Sishi, whose duty it was to consider recommendations by schools to expel pupils in terms of the SA Schools Act, failed to make a decision in the matter.

Borain said attorneys’ letters to Education MEC Senzo Mchunu, as well as to Sishi in March and April, had merely elicited a letter from the department’s senior legal adviser acknowledging receipt of an earlier letter. Then on May 7 another letter was received stating that Sishi had “not yet taken a decision”.

This was more than two months after the date by which Sishi was obliged to decide in terms of the legislation.

“It would appear that the second respondent [Sishi] has taken a decision not to endorse expulsions in public schools at all.

“Such an attitude [by him] will breed a culture of delinquent learners, will place an unbearable amount of tension on educators and will jeopardise the safety of other learners,” said Borain.

He said this would “threaten the whole education policy and system in the province”.

Borain said the fact that Buthelezi was still attending school without any sanction on him created uncertainty as far as the governance of the school was concerned, made staff and pupils feel vulnerable, and created a situation where other pupils believed that the department did not regard such violent behaviour as serious enough to do something about it.

Muzi Mahlambi, spokesperson for the KZN Education Department, did not respond to text messages asking for comment yesterday.

Sishi also did not answer his cellphone or respond to text messages yesterday.

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