Department unable to fix on number of exam cheats as judgment looms
Basic education department says of the 195 students on the Whatsapp group where the maths paper was leaked, only 71 had been traced and most were untraceable
Judge Norman Davis will hand down judgment electronically on Friday as to whether two leaked matric examination papers will be rewritten.
On Thursday, Davis heard applications in the high court in Pretoria by AfriForum and the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) to reverse a decision to rewrite the leaked physical science paper 2 and maths paper 2.
The court is also being asked to compel the basic education department and quality assurance body Umalusi to mark the scripts of four pupils represented by AfriForum and those who were not involved in any irregularity regarding the leaked papers.
Advocate Chris Erasmus, representing the department of basic education, said it was best that pupils rewrote the papers while the material was still fresh in their minds.
“There are 195 students from all over SA in that [Whatsapp] group where the maths paper 2 was leaked. Only 71 learners have been contacted,” he added.
Erasmus said some of the pupils could not be reached.
“The department may never know the identity of those who had access to the leaked paper [owing] to the fact that a large number of cellphone numbers found on the WhatsApp group are not registered in the respective owners’ name,” he said.
Umalusi had also indicated to the department that it would not certify the two papers because they were irrevocably compromised.
Erasmus said the consequences of no rewrite should be taken into account. “A no rewrite means a loss of the academic year. The investigation will not be concluded by February 23. They [pupils] then will not be accepted at higher learning institutions,” he said.
Umalusi legal representative advocate Dennis Fine said the main point was that the leak had gone viral. It would have been unfair to announce in 2021 that the marks would not be approved.
“The point missed by advocates is that ... the investigations will not be finalised by February 2021,” he said.
Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said if pupils rewrote now they would get their results in February.
“If the rewrite does not happen, it means that the department will continue with the investigations beyond February. This is the risk that we are trying to protect the candidates from,” said Mhlanga.
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