Pupils win fictional Constitutional Court case

Pupils from Eastern Cape who came out tops at the National Schools Moot Court competition. /Supplied
Pupils from Eastern Cape who came out tops at the National Schools Moot Court competition. /Supplied

Eastern Cape may be among the worst performing provinces when it comes to matric results, however, its pupils recently scooped first prize at the National Schools Moot Court competition.

After being successful in the quarterfinals and semifinals, the pupils competed with a team from KwaZulu-Natal. They had an opportunity to argue before eight judges who took turns asking them questions at the Constitutional Court in Joburg on Saturday.

The Eastern Cape team comprised Ondele Bede and Mihlali Stofile from the Holy Cross High School in Mthatha and Okhela Sigwela and Lizalise Dhlomo from Hudson High School in East London.

They impressed the judges who were led by Justice Margaret Victor with their essay on a fictional ConCourt case about a Rastafarian boy who had been told by his school he's not allowed to have dreadlocks.

Bede, 17, a grade 11 pupil, said they argued that no child should be denied basic education on the basis of their religion.

"Our case study went into a Christian school with a code of conduct that dictated that pupils may only wear natural hair for religious purposes as per the schools values.

"We argued that the school should accommodate each and every child regardless of religion," said Bede.

Sigwela, 18, a grade 11 pupil said it still hasn't sunk in that they have won.

"All we wanted was to gain experience in the legal field. I am happy to say we did this with no instructions.

"It was scary at first, but I learned to not doubt myself and that I can be whatever I want to be if I put my mind to it."

Sigwela and Bede agreed that the experience has helped shape their decision about pursuing law when they finish school.

Throughout the competition, the pupils were tested on their critical and analytical thinking skills as they presented compelling arguments.

Deputy minister of justice and constitutional development John Jeffreys said the schools moot court presented a unique opportunity for the pupils to examine and scrutinise the constitution and be faced by hypothetical situations which test real world cases and push learners to their limit.

"Many will dream of being lawyers, many will train, many will be mentored and many more will eventually wish to put their cases before the court. The reality is only a handful will ever make it and this team has done much to achieve those dreams," he said.

Since its inception in 2011, the National Schools Moot Court competition has
explored various sections of the Bill of Rights.

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