School authorities at Masiyephambili Junior School in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city last week 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 religion was surprised when school authorities barred his son from attending class when schools opened for the first term last Tuesday.
Mbalenhle’s tribulations ended last Friday after lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) obtained a court order interdicting school authorities at Masiyephambili Junior School from chucking him out of lessons.
High Court Judge Justice Martin Makonese on Friday granted a provisional order allowing Mbalenhle to commence lessons at the school.
“There is no lawful basis for the Respondents to interfere with the minor child’s right to education based on his long hair that expresses his religious beliefs,” reads part of Justice Makonese’s order.
Justice Makonese said the school headmaster’s directive to have Mbalenhle’s hair cut was “null and void and of no legal consequence”.
Mbalenhle is the second child in Zimbabwe to veto orders by school authorities to chop off dreadlocks. In 2007, the Supreme Court passed a landmark ruling barring school authorities from expelling deadlocked students from learning institutions on grounds of their hairstyles.
This was after ZLHR lawyer, Zvikomborero Chadambuka petitioned the Constitutional court representing a six-year-old Glen Norah boy, Farai Benjamin Dzvova, who hailed from a Rastafarian family and was barred from Ruvheneko government primary school on account of his hairstyle in 2006.