Exam 'cheats' back

VICTORIOUS: Advocate Mphafolane Koma represented the suspended
VICTORIOUS: Advocate Mphafolane Koma represented the suspended students. PHOTO: PEGGY NKOMO

THE Pretoria High Court has ordered Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to reinstate 18 students from a local college who were suspended for a year for allegedly cheating during an examination.

The students, from Rostec FET College in Pretoria, were suspended on October 3 by the department's irregularity committee after a marker noticed that they all scored "unusually high marks" in their various subjects.

A marker raised the alarm bell when all the students scored marks of between 68% and 100% inindustrial electronics in their final exams.

The department's director, Elisabeth Malindi, then wrote to Rostec management stating: "According to the evidence available, it was found that the candidates were guilty of contravening the examination rules.

"In accordance with the national policy determined by the minister, the results obtained by the candidates in the examination for the instructional offering will not be acknowledged and the candidates may not register for any national exams for a period of eleven months until November 2013."

When Mantladi Nkadimeng, the father of one of the suspended students Peter Seloga , failed to get the department to reverse its decision he took the matter to court.

Seloga is studying electrical engineering.

Nkadimeng argued that his son's suspension was irregular in that he was never given a chance to tell his side of the story, therefore violating his rights.

On November 8, Judge Natvarial Ranchod said the department's procedure to suspend the students was flawed.

He ordered the department to lift the suspension and institute disciplinary proceedings against the students if it felt there was a case.

The department was also ordered to make available the students' examination results, which it had withheld.

Rostec FET College chief executive Phillip Kakuru said he could not comment on the matter as the process was not complete.

Higher Education Department spokeswoman Vuyelwa Qinga did notrespond to voice-mail messages or questions sent through e-mail.

Mphafolane Koma, who represented the students, said: "I am happy that the students now have the chance to set the record straight.

"The department nearly destroyed their futures unnecessarily."

- alfredm@sowetan.co.za