High Court judge Justice Catherine Bachi-Muzawazi on Friday, 20 May ordered the Rugare Government Primary School Headmistress to reinstate a 13-year-old Grade 6 pupil she had suspended on 11 May 2022.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the headmistress expelled the minor on the basis that she resides in Warren Park suburb, which is an adjacent residential suburb to Rugare suburb. Said ZLHR:
The Headmistress told the minor that she was ineligible to be enrolled at Rugare Primary School because she stays in Warren Park, which is outside the zone for the school and that there are enough schools in Warren Park, where she can be accommodated.
The expulsion took place despite the fact that the minor has been a student at Rugare Primary School since she enrolled for Grade 1 and that it is already mid-term after lessons commenced on 3 May 2022.
Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR then wrote a letter to the Headmistress advising her that the summary expulsion of the minor was unlawful and arbitrary.
Chinopfukutwa argued that she made the decision without having observed the audi alteram partem rule, which is a fundamental legal principle in which each party is entitled to a fair hearing and given the opportunity to respond to evidence against them and hence in breach of the principles of natural justice.
Chinopfukutwa asked the Headmistress to unconditionally reinstate and allow the minor to attend lessons at Rugare Primary School.
He also demanded that the school head makes necessary arrangements to compensate her for lost learning time as a result of the school authorities’ unlawful actions.
After the Headmistress failed to reinstate the schoolchild, Chinopfukwa approached the High Court on an urgent basis seeking an order compelling her to reinstate the minor and the costs of the litigation to be borne by the Headmistress.