School hair row: Pupil expelled for having 4cm-long hair can return to school

2018-03-15 12:27
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Mokopane - The principal of Hoërskool Piet Potgieter in Mokopane, Limpopo, was ordered by the High Court to reinstate a Grade 10 pupil who was expelled because he had 4cm-long hair.

The Limpopo High Court in Polokwane granted the order on Tuesday after the parents of the 17-year-old pupil approached the court "for an urgent solution".

Advocate Mphafolane Jerry Koma told News24 on Wednesday that the pupil's parents had approached him after the pupil was expelled last Thursday, March 8.

"We were successful and the court granted an order that the learner be reinstated at school with immediate effect and, indeed, he was taken to school immediately and he was reinstated," he said.

READ: Durban schoolboy with 'exotic' haircut sent home to grow it out

Koma revealed that a plan was discussed with the principal, setting out how the pupil would be accommodated for the purpose of catching up with lost school time.

According to court papers in News24's possession, the school and principal Jimmy Steele, who were the first and second respondents respectively, were also ordered to pay the legal costs of the case.

'No help from education department'

Koma said the parents took the legal route after the provincial department of education allegedly failed to assist them.

"Their main worry was that the child was at home and now they needed an urgent solution," he said.

The lawyer claimed that according to the school's policy, white pupils were allowed to have 4cm-long hair, while black pupils were only allowed to have 1cm-long hair.

Koma said the pupil, whose name is known to News24, had natural hair, "not a hairstyle".

When asked about the hair policy on Thursday, Steele would not deny nor confirm whether such a policy existed at the school.

"We did receive the court order. It is executed to the letter of the word. But at the moment the rest of the case is sub judice. That's all I'm advised to say at the moment."

Provincial education department spokesperson Sam Makondo said the department was not initially aware of the court case.

"Yes, we were not aware and that's why we were not even in court. As a law-abiding department, we accept the interim order and the rest of the issues will be heard in court on 17 April," he said.

When asked if the department was aware of the policy, Makondo said they were investigating the matter.

"Remember this is a matter that has raised more questions than answers and the department has launched an investigation into the matters of the school. Findings will determine the course of action that must be taken to improve on the issues at the school," he said.

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Read more on:    polokwane  |  courts  |  human rights  |  education

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