Some schools in Zimbabwe have started attaching the movable property of parents who fail to pay their children’s education fees, following a High Court ruling empowering school administrators to take such action instead of turning away pupils.
Bulawayo High Court Justice Maphios Cheda ruled that pupils should not become pawns in school fee disputes by being turned away or denied examination results.
But the ruling has turned into a scourge for families hard pressed to come up with fees for attendance at public schools that are supposed to provide free education.
Parents in Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces said the deputy sheriff started attaching property such as wheelbarrows and hand carts one week ago.
They said the sheriff has placed newspaper ads saying property of parents with children at the Zebra Downs, Mushowe and Tafara primary schools in Karoi, Mashonaland West province, will be auctioned in the next few days. Such seizures and auctions are also unfolding in Norton, northwest of Harare, and in Masvingo, to the southeast.
Christine Banda, 77, of Norton, who takes care of several orphans, said she is baffled by the seizures. “I find it strange that this move was initiated by a court of law in Zimbabwe where millions of people are living from hand to mouth," she said.
Itai Dube of Nyika Growth Point, Masvingo province, said the government should take action to stop such attachments and auctions.
Bulawayo human rights lawyer Lizwe Jamela said parents should engage schools if they receive summonses so that their property will not be attached and sold.