By Dumisani Nyoni
Lupane, November 10, 2016 – FOUR Lupane villagers accused of storming a local secondary school demanding the ouster of a non-Ndebele school head June this year, have been acquitted due to lack of evidence in their case.
The four villagers, who are part of the School Development Council (SDC) at Mlamuli Secondary School, were arrested by police in June for demanding the removal of the school’s headmistress, Millet Bonyongwe.
They were accusing her of being responsible for the poor pass rate at the school as she was not conversant with the local Ndebele language.
Their trial kicked-off last week on Tuesday at the Lupane Magistrate’s Court and were acquitted at the end of the state’s case.
In acquitting the villagers on Wednesday this week, the magistrate Ndumo Masuku, stated that putting the accused to their defence where the State has failed to prove a prima- facie case was a violation of their right to free trial.
The State prosecutor conceded to the application by villagers’ lawyer, Dumisani Dube, and told the court that since Bonyongwe denied making the report or being the complainant, they had no case.
Magistrate bemoaned lack of professionalism in the police force.
“This court bemoans the degree of policing standards in this case and wastage of resources. In summary, the accused are discharged at the close of State case,” said magistrate Masuku.
The villagers, through their lawyer, had requested the state to acquit the villagers as there was no case to answer but police, through one Sergeant Darlington Hochi, insisted that they had a case to answer.
The secessionist Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) was keenly following the trial in support of the villagers.
Bonyongwe is among many non-Ndebele speaking educators deployed to the pre-dominantly Ndebele region who are being accused of undermining the language by conversing with pupils, some in their elementary schooling, in Shona.
Villagers insist if the teachers want to be welcome in the area, they must at least show interest in learning the local language.