The IFP calls on the Human Rights Commission to urgently investigate the expulsion of two learners in Newcastle because they refused to cut their hair for religious reasons.
“Nkululeko Mahashi, 19, and Lindokuhle Mhlambi, 18, are in Grade 9 at Osizweni High School. These learners are being discriminated because of being members of Nazareth Baptist Church or Shembe faith, which stipulates that a man’s strength is in his hair and therefore it should not be cut. This is a violation of human rights and needs to be investigated urgently. If the teacher who is alleged to be involved in this matter has acted in contravention of the school policy, severe action must be taken against that teacher,” said IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Education, Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, MPL.
“We all have different beliefs. We cannot allow schools or teachers to force their beliefs on learners and to chase children away because of their hair. Such highhanded action robs those children of a right to education. In a diverse society like ours, institutions like schools have a special duty reasonably to accommodate the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of learners, employees or members,” continued Mrs Madlopha-Mthethwa.
“When a school or other body draws up a code of conduct, it should always provide for the reasonable accommodation of all the different cultural and religious practices of the pupils in that school. This requires more than mere tolerance of what is perceived as weird or alien beliefs and practices and requires a celebration of the diversity of cultures and religions in South Africa. This clearly did not happen in this case and I have no doubt that the school is acting unlawfully. The school has a duty to accommodate these learners religious practice and cannot demand that they cut their hair,” added Mrs Madlopha-Mthethwa.
“MEC Peggy Nkonyeni needs to engage with the school as she has a duty to ensure that schools did not breach the constitutional and legal rights of pupils. If she fails to act immediately, she would be disrespecting the Constitution and would be failing to protect vulnerable children whose constitutional rights are being infringed,” concluded Mrs Madlopha-Mthethwa.
Mr Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa,MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Education
071 884 3844/ 0791143015
For Media Queries:
Mr Phendulani Biyase
IFP KZN Legislature Media Officer
073 024 5675