A HEADMISTRESS from Mangwe district last week told a Plumtree magistrate that only one pupil passed Grade Seven national examinations while being taught by a non-Ndebele speaking teacher during her two-year tenure at Makuzeze Primary.Sithembile Victoria Pasipanodya who left Makuzeze in January 2013, was giving evidence-in-chief in a trial where villagers from Makuzeze and members of the Mthwakazi Joint Youth Resolution are accused of disturbing peace and public order at the school.
Pasipanodya told the court that the teacher to the Grade Seven class then was Munyaradzi, her husband, who is Shona.
“Only one Grade Seven pupil passed and yes they were taught by my husband . . . who is Shona speaking. However, he did not take the kids from the first grade, other teachers should take the blame too,” said Pasipanodya.
Pasipanodya, who opened the case against Mqondisi Moyo (26), Busani Sibanda (30), Thandolwenkosi Dube (26), Simanje Sibanda (32), Lieoto Dube (36), Ntokozo Denge, (35) and Temba Mvundla (48), accused the seven of hurling insults, ejecting her from school with other Shona-speaking teachers and threatening them with unspecified action.
Ironically, Lieoto and Denge are also teachers at the school.
However, the seven pleaded not guilty to the charges before Mr Gideon Ruvesta and were remanded out of custody to September for continuation of the trial.
“On 8 January 2013 members of Mthwakazi Joint Youth and a group of villagers convened an unsanctioned meeting at the school. They sent school children out of the classrooms, and fearing the outcome of the meeting I went to the police station to report about the meeting,” Pasipanodya said.
“Upon my return to the school, the gate was locked with a big key and a chain preventing my exit. Villagers and teachers approached us saying we are firing you Shona people, we are tired of being ruled by you.
“The crowd was shouting hambani maShona, hambani maShona.”
The headmistress added that one of the accused, Sibindi, ordered her to hand over the administration block keys and she did out of fear.
However, Mr Dumisani Dube of Cheda and Partners who represented the accused persons described Pasipanodya as a “liar, with a very short memory and a tainted witness who is seeking the sympathy of the court by playing a tribal card”.
Mr Dube asked Pasipanodya to tell the court her maiden surname, tribe and why she was testifying in Ndebele.
“My maiden surname is Nyathi and those accused labelled me a Shona ask them why,” she said.
Pasipanodya is from Mpandeni, in Mangwe district.
One of the accused Denge, a teacher at Makuzeze primary, was of Shona origin, Mr Dube said.
He further told the court that Ms Pasipanodya was petitioned to leave by a legally constituted School Development Committee after more than 70 villagers signed the petition due to her alleged poor performance at the school and after an audit report found that she had embezzled public funds.
In addition, Mr Dube said Pasipanodya recommended the transfer of three teachers at the under staffed school involved in exposing her maladministration including Lieoto and Denge who had been at Makuzeze for four and nine years respectively.
Furthermore, Mr Dube questioned the inconsistencies between Pasipanodya statement she made to the police and her evidence in-chief. “What I said before this court is what I told the police. The police asked me to sign the statement and I signed without reading,” testified Pasipanodya.
Makuzeze councillor, Ms Sindisiwe Sibanda, in a statement to the police, said she saw a letter written by Pasipanodya alleging that the school was over-staffed while it was understaffed by one teacher.
“We got shocked that the three (teachers) were transferred and reasons for transfer were over-staffing. The school had seven teachers instead of eight and it had recorded a zero percent pass rate for the grade seven exams,” she said.