Angie Motshekga

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.
Image source: Flickr

Judgement expected on matric rewrite challenge

Judge Norman Davis had reserved judgement on Afriforum and Sadtu’s urgent application to halt the rewrite of the second papers for Mathematics and Physical Sciences, on Thursday

Angie Motshekga

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.
Image source: Flickr

The High Court in Pretoria is set to deliver judgement on a legal challenge by Afriforum and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), to halt the rewrite of two matric examination papers, on Friday, 11 December 2020.

Proceedings got underway on Thursday, with both the lobby group and teachers’ union questioning the rationality behind the decision.

Minister Angie Motshekga announced on Friday, 4 December 2020, that the second papers for Mathematics and Physical Sciences would be re-written on the 15th and 17th December respectively. This is after the question papers were leaked in parts of the country.

There has been much opposition to the move and many have lashed out at the department, saying the extent of the leak does not warrant a rewrite. The department has maintained that the move is necessary as it protects the integrity, credibility and validity of the exams.

Afiforum: Matric rewrite ‘a flawed approach’

Afriforum is representing four pupils from Pretoria in the matter.

Among his arguments, Afriforum’s advocate Quintus Pelser pointed out that thousands of matric pupils would be unfairly disadvantaged and inconvenienced by the decision. Pelser even compared the rewrite to punishment.

“There are learners who are entitled to the benefit of the doubt and in respect of whom a strong message is wholly inapplicable. This borders on an irregular situation…I submit it is a flawed approach and it comes very close to punishment,”

Afriforum’s advocate Quintus Pelser

Pelser further said that the decision was made without the consultation of critical stakeholders, including the department’s director-general Mathanzima Hubert Mweli.

“There is no indication in all of these papers that the DG even considered, let alone consulted, and made a decision. The minister made the decision,” he told the court.

Quality assurer Umalusi, also defendants in the matter, had said an investigation into the leak would take too long and that would affect the matric results, which are set to be released in February 2021.

“Umalusi, they’ve made up their minds too early. They should’ve waited until there’s proper investigations. Papers must be marked. Only after that, when they are approached for the certification, it is then when they have to make the decision,” argued lawyer Japie Strydom.

The examination papers were leaked just a week apart. The department subsequently sprung into action, roping in the Hawks to investigate. The minister confirmed that authorities had made a breakthrough, arresting one person in connection with the paper leak.

The 31 year-old man Themba Daniel Shikwambana, works for a Johannesburg-based company contracted by the education department to print matric exam papers. Shikwambana has been released on bail and is expected back in the dock in January 2021.