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Zimbabwe school bars dreadlocked child from enrolling for lessons

Zimbabwe school bars dreadlocked child from enrolling for lessons

A headmaster at a Zimbabwean school on Tuesday 10 January 2012 barred a four-year-old child from enrolling for lessons for wearing dreadlocks.

The headmaster only identified as R Sibanda of Masiyephambili Junior School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city on Tuesday 10 January 2012 barred Mbalenhle Dube, a four-year-old boy from attending Grade Zero lessons at the school because of his hairstyle.

Mbalenhle was admitted by the school for the 2012 Grade Zero class and his father Khumbulani Dube paid the necessary school fees, and purchased uniforms and books in preparation for his son's studies.

But Dube, whose son and family belong to the Rastafarian reli

gion was surprised when school authorities barred his son from attending class when schools opened for the first term on Tuesday.

Dube has now engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to challenge the violation of the child's freedom of conscience and religion.

ZLHR senior projects lawyer, Lizwe Jamela on Tuesday 10 January 2012 wrote a letter to Sibanda advising him that his actions were in violation of Mbalenhle's rights under Section 19 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion.

Mbalenhle and his family belong to the Rastafarian religion, a religion constitutionally protected like any other religion in Zimbabwe.

Jamela reminded Sibanda that the Supreme Court has already ruled that schools cannot violate students' constitutionally protected freedoms.

The human rights lawyer asked the headmaster to reinstate Mbalenhle and allow him to commence his studies failure of which he would approach the courts for recourse.

This is the second time that ZLHR has had to come to the rescue of dreadlocked children. In 2007, ZLHR obtained a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court which barred school authorities from expelling deadlocked students from learning institutions on grounds of their hairstyles. This was after ZLHR filed a Constitutional application on behalf of a six-year-old Glen Norah boy, Farai Benjamin Dzvova, whose family practises Rastafarianism and was barred from Ruvheneko government primary school on account of his dreadlocked hairstyle in 2006.

It is an integral part of the Rastafarian faith that they take certain vows as part of their religion including that they do not cut their hair.

 

ENDS

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