South Africa, Pretoria – Umalusi has agreed for matrics have to rewrite the leaked maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2, the majority of the education department did not favour a rewrite but they simply listened to Umalusi.
The court is being asked to set aside the decision by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga that these exams be rewritten on Tuesday and Thursday (next week). This is the argument before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria by counsel for some of the affected learners.
Four sets of applications are being heard by Judge Norman Davis – but all of them want the same order: that the rewrite of the exams is off the cards.
While some want the minister to be interdicted from going ahead with the rewrite, others want her decision in this regard to be reviewed and set aside.
The first of the group of four to start their arguments on Thursday morning is lobby group AfriForum, which is acting on behalf of five matriculants.
Before they started, the judge said he wanted to be addressed on issues such as who took the decision that the papers had to be remarked and what was the involvement of Umalusi.
Advocate Quintus Pelser, acting on their behalf, argued that the moment Umalusi decided the exams had to be rewritten, the minister and the department simply gave in.
Pelser said Umalusi made its decision based on a preliminary and inconclusive report into the leakage exam papers.
“The majority of the department was in favour of a rewrite but Umalusi found the integrity of both papers was compromised and a strong message had to be sent out. They closed their eyes to anything else and that was their stance,” Pelser said.
Pelser questioned Umalusi’s legal standing in interfering with the issue of the leaked exam papers and said the minister and the department simply could not stand up against Umalusi.
“Umalusi must tell the court if they have the right to interfere…they are telling the department what to do….the minister is just a rubber stamp for what Umalusi decided.
The department just froze when Umalusi spoke,” Pelser said.
Lienke Spies, one of the applicants, said in court papers that this was a traumatic year for all, but especially for pupils.
Schools were closed for long periods due to Covid-19 and many education days were lost.
The exams started later than usual and she, together with others around the country, wrote their second maths papers on November 16, while the second science paper was written on November 23.
Two days after the maths exam was written, the news about the exam paper leakage broke.
“We were totally unaware of the leakage and prepared for the exam as best as we could.”
She said as per standing regulations, she and the other pupils have handed in all their textbooks of the subjects they have concluded.
Many have also destroyed their study notes. Spies said while the court application is being heard on Thursday, she must still write a two-and-a-half-hour consumer studies paper, while on Friday she will write a two and a half hour Afrikaans home language paper.
This, apart from two more subjects which must be written next week.
According to Spies, she will write a three-hour visual arts paper on Tuesday morning and she is then expected to sit for the maths rewrite.
Minister Motshekga meanwhile said that she has consulted all relevant stakeholders on the issue, including Umalusi, and that they all agreed that the integrity of the examinations had to be protected and to expose the culprits who were behind the leakage of the exam papers.
Spies said the minister took a decision regarding the most important examination of their lives, without consulting a single pupil.
A total of 391 000 pupils sat for the maths two paper, while 282 sat for the second physical science paper. This, she said, while only a handful of pupils belonged to the WhatsApp group where the papers were leaked.
Spies said it is simply not fair and it is unlawful, that everyone now had to be punished.