Judgment in school ban on dreadlocked girl reserved

BULAWAYO - High Court Judge Justice Misheck Cheda on Friday reserved judgment in a case in which Education minister David Coltart and another Bulawayo school have been dragged to court by a Rastafarian family after their girl-child was expelled for spotting dreadlocks at school.

Anele Makhiwa, 13, had been admitted at the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA)-run Bulawayo Adventist Secondary School (Bass) for a Form One place but she was expelled from school on the opening day last Tuesday after authorities demanded she shaves off the dreadlocks.

On Friday, Makhiwa’s parents, through Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyer Jonathan Tsvangirai, filed an urgent chamber application seeking an order directing the school to accept Anele at the school.

Coltart, Bass and the school headmaster, given as N. Marandure, were cited as first, second and third respondents respectively.

“The judge reserved judgment in this matter and he will probably be making a ruling this week maybe on Thursday,” Tsvangirai told the Daily News.

In the court application, Anele’s father said the respondents were trying to force the girl to denounce her religion and to cut her dreadlocks, which is against her religion, as a Rastafarian.

In January last year school authorities at another Bulawayo school Masiyephambili Junior barred Mbalenhle Dube, another four-year-old Rastafarian boy from attending Grade Zero lessons because of his dreadlocks.

Mbalenhle was finally admitted at the school after High Court Judge Justice Martin Makonese granted an order allowing him to commence lessons at the school.

In his ruling, Justice Makonese said the school headmaster’s directive to have Mbalenhle’s hair cut was “null and void and of no legal consequence”.

Anele is now the third child in Zimbabwe to be barred from school for wearing dreadlocks.

 In 2007, the Supreme Court passed a landmark ruling barring school authorities from expelling deadlocked students from learning institutions on grounds of their hairstyles.

This was after ZLHR lawyer, Zvikomborero Chadambuka petitioned the Constitutional Court representing a six-year-old Glen Norah boy, Farai Benjamin Dzvova, who hailed from a Rastafarian family and was barred from Ruvheneko Primary School in 2006 on account of his hairstyle. - Pindai Dube

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