Thu, 21 Nov 2019

Shocks at city schools

14 Jun 2019, 05:40 GMT+10

Hilton College's head boy has been pulled out of the school by his parents and another pupil has been suspended amidst a dagga scandal at the elite school.

This, as a Maritzburg College pupil faces an inquiry over an allegedly fake identity document.

The Hilton College head boy left before a disciplinary hearing for allegedly using the drug but not distributing it, could take place.

The school stressed on Wednesday that disciplinary proceedings against a Grade 11 pupil for allegedly using and distributing dagga at the school are still under way and the matter is still being investigated.

Both these incidents came to light this week.

established on Wednesday that Maritzburg College has launched an investigation after a matric pupil was found to have registered to write matric exams with an allegedly fraudulent identity document.

School governing body chairperson Rob Evans confirmed on Wednesday that a pupil had been found in possession of an allegedly fraudulent identity document. The school has referred the matter to the Department of Education for guidance.

"We are awaiting a decision from the Education Department. We cannot make any further comments on the matter at this stage," he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said initially that "the matter belongs to the Department of Home Affairs".

"Parents must take charge of their own kids. This is a punishable offence. In fact, it's fraud," he said.

Later on, another spokesperson for the department, Sihle Mlotshwa, told the department will advise the school to hold a disciplinary hearing in accordance with their code of conduct, "in a case where a learner has contravened the code".

A police source told that it is a crime to present a fake identity document as the consequence of doing so would be to commit fraud.

If false documents had been presented to the Home Affairs Department, the department could lay a criminal charge against the pupil.

If the document was stolen or obtained illegally, the school, the Education Department and/ or the organisation to which it was presented could pursue criminal charges.

Meanwhile, Hilton College was on Wednesday still reeling from the discovery that pupils were using dagga. Apart from the Grade 11 pupil and the head boy who left the school, 26 other pupils there voluntarily admitted to using dagga.

Hilton College spokesperson Peter Storrar said the school would be working with the head boy's family to ensure he is still able to write his matric exams.

He said although it has been a traumatic time for the families involved, the school wanted to use it as an opportunity to confront a scourge that society faces - and which puts teenagers at risk. "We have therefore acted swiftly, honestly, boldly and transparently," he said.

Hilton College principal George Harris said in a statement that it was reported to him on June 5 that there had been "substance abuse among a number of the senior boys".

Harris called a meeting with the pupils from Grade 10, 11 and 12 earlier this week and offered an amnesty period for other pupils to admit to their involvement or participation in using dagga.

Harris said the amnesty offered would not translate into "a zero consequence" but the pupils' admission will serve as a mitigating factor should the investigation prove their involvement.

The amnesty period lasted for 48 hours and ended on June 8 at 3 pm.

"We will continue our investigation, given the information I have received.

"I have made this point before: these ills were the domain of one's university days a number of years ago but sadly adolescents are exposed to this at an even younger age and they are ill equipped (at this age) to navigate the pressure placed on them to make wise choices," said Harris.

"This has been a sobering process, but one that has underlined our resolve to ensure our boys know that we are strongly opposed to, and will not tolerate, any form of substance abuse."

He said the pupils that had come forward will all be punished appropriately but will not be expelled.

Harris said the boys' usage ranged from once-off experimentation, to use on one or two occasions, to use on multiple occasions.

"Boys who were implicated but who did not come forward and claim the amnesty will now be subjected to our normal disciplinary processes and procedures," said Harris. "As a school our resolve is clear. We will put this particular episode behind us and we will ensure that our boys learn anew what is acceptable behaviour when it comes to substance abuse and the like.

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