Jehovah's Witnesses pupils, school fight over religion

HARARE - The Constitutional Court has reserved ruling in a case in which four parents of Jehovah’s Witnesses pupils attending the Anglican Church-owned Arundel School are challenging the institution’s decision to compel every student to attend religious sessions at the school.

Amos Makani, Mbiri Shiripinda, Plaxedes Chipangura and Daniel Sakupwanya, who were represented by Tererai Mafukidze, yesterday told the court that their children can only attend church sessions in Jehovah’s Witness’ Kingdom Halls.

Mafukidze argued that by compelling his client’s children to go to Anglican chapels, the school was acting unconstitutionally and infringing on the children’s rights to freedom of religion.

He further told the court that when the children were enrolled at the school, their circumstances were well-known, adding that the previous school head had exempted them from attending the Anglican Church-led sessions.

Mafukidze said the situation only changed after a new school head was appointed.

“In early 2015, a new headmistress was appointed to head the school and replaced the previous head,” the parents’ application reads.

“The head then sought to introduce compulsory chapel attendances for all students. She indicated that she was going to ‘reinforce collegiality in the school’ and that all pupils would be required to attend chapel.

“Collegiality, as far as the applicants know, is a concept that is alien to their beliefs as the Witnesses of Jehovah. They do not believe in it. They do not wish to have it applied to their daughters.

“It is common cause that the chapel is a place of worship in the school. The headmistress was in essence therefore saying that all students would be required to attend worship.”

Mafukidze said that in the chapel, there were several images, synonymous with Biblical idolatry and a contravention of God’s commandment. The parents said this was contrary to their beliefs.

However, Arundel School and its headmistress Pauline Makoni, who were represented by Adrian de Bourbon, told the court that they were acting in a reasonable manner based on contractual agreements between the school and the parents.

De Bourbon told the court that the childrens’ parents had applied for places knowing very well that Arundel was an Anglican-run school.

“Freedom of religion does not include freedom from religion,” he said. “They (parents) should have taken their children to a Jehovah’s Witnesses school.”

He said that allowing the parents’ claim was reverse discrimination, adding that their request was unreasonable.

De Bourbon told the court that there was an element of fraud on the part of the parents, in that they agreed to take their children to the institution knowing very well that it was an Anglican school.

However, Mafukidze said this was an unfair allegation, considering that the school’s advert gave room to those that would not want to attend the chapel.

In the end, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku reserved ruling in the matter.

Comments (4)

something fishy here from the jw. i dont agree with the anglicans moreso the roman catholics, but if i dont want to hear their teachings i should not go to their places. however Jesus say he wont take us fromthis world which are the systems of the world. so we wont avoid the teaching of this world no matter how much we try. even if we go to courts our children will meet these teachings one way or the other.

see - 30 July 2015

Amos, Mbiri, Plaxedes and Daniel, please remove your kids from this Anglican institution and take them to Jehova's Witness ones. Arundel School has grown into an institution of excellence based on the basic tenets of the Anglican way of doing things, and now you want to destroy those standards. Don't be like Moslems who want to impose their will wherever they go. After all, your kids might not grow to be Jehova's Witnesses in their adulthood. Musatinyaudze apa!

Njodzi Mazanhi - 30 July 2015

Jehovah Witness parents are very very unfair. If it was your school how were you going to react? I suppose Arundel is a private school not gvt one. I am a Seventh Day Adventist. If you want to take your children to Ruuya, Nyazura or Solusi, you have to adhere to our beliefs. Yitai zvikoro zvenu pamuchaita madiro a Georgina.

Ngwekazi - 31 July 2015

Damn these parents who want to have their cake and eating it too! They should remove their children from Arundel school and take them to school(s) of Jehovah Witnesses. They applied to have their children admitted at Arundel knowing fully well that the school is Anglican. My daughter was denied a place at Arundel because she is Roman Catholic despite performing excellently and I had no choice but to take her to St Dominic's Chishawasha where as expected she got 15 points (3 straight A's), was a prefect for all the time she was at St Dominic's. The lucky thing is that St Dominic's Chishawasha is even much cheaper than Arundel.

Rosemary Manhombo - 1 August 2015

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