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Court Adjourns Mangwe Villagers' Language Clashes Trial

  • Sithandekile Mhlanga

Some pupils were sent home today for not paying school fees as schools opened for the third term

Some pupils were sent home today for not paying school fees as schools opened for the third term

The headmistress has since been transferred, while the fired teachers have been re-instated.

The trial of seven villagers in Mangwe District in Matabeleland South, who demonstrated against school headmistress Victoria Pasipanodya at Makuzeze Primary School last year, accusing her of maladministration and tribalism, has been adjourned to October by the Plumtree Magistrates’ Court.

The villagers are accused of insulting the then headmistress and her deputy, Robson Gotosa, whom they accused of firing Ndebele and Kalanga-speaking teachers and misappropriating funds.

The villagers also accused Munyaradzi Pasipanodya, the headmistress’ husband, of producing only one pass in his class because he did not understand his pupils’ local languages.

Lawyer Dumisani Dube says the row started in January last year when more than 78 parents, including the local headman, and Zanu PF ward counselor, demonstrated against the headmistress and sent a petition to the Ministry of Education.

The headmistress has since been transferred, while the fired teachers have been re-instated.

The accused are said to have insulted the headmistress during the protest, and sought the aid of civic group Mthwakazi Joint Youth Resolution, whose members are part of the accused.

The trial has failed to kick-off several times, after one of the accused requested to be addressed in isiSotho language.

Dube says the interpreter was finally found, but his license has since expired.

He adds the education ministry has since carried-out an audit of the situation at the school, which the defense presented as evidence of mal-administration in court.

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