Court re -admits six Mzuni students

The High Court in Mzuzu has ordered Council of Mzuzu University to immediately re-admit six students it expelled on allegations of cheating during examinations.

The court further ordered that the students should write a new set of examinations within 14 days adding that marking and release of results shall be within 7 days “making a total of 21 days”

“The question as to whether there was cheating or not is not for this forum,” Judge Dingiswayo Madise said.

Mzuzu High Court

“ If the Applicants pass they must proceed with their education… In the case that the Applicants fail they should be dealt with according to rules and regulations governing the administration of examinations at Mzuni,” the Judge added.

Alick Nyozomo Gondwe and five others through Lawyer George Kadzipatike of Jivason and Company sought leave from the court under Order 53 to move for a Judicial review against the decision of Mzuni to expel them for having been found with academic reference materials in an examination room against regulations.

The six challenged the decision of Mzuni as being based on illegality, procedural impropriety, unreasonableness and unconstitutionality.

In an affidavit filed on his own behalf and on behalf of the other five, Alick Nyozomo Gondwe stated that there were no witnesses to back the allegations saying as a matter of law the witnesses were supposed to be present in order to testify at the hearing.

“This is a requirement under Regulation 4.1.11 (ii) of the Mzuni Student Handbook. Again the Senate Academic Disciplinary Committee was illegally constituted as it was never chaired by the Director of Studies and that the Deans and Heads of Departments were absent as required by Regulation 4.1.11 (I),” Gondwe said.

He further alleged that they were not given enough notice to prepare their cases saying this amounted to a breach of their right to be heard.

But Mzuni’s Acting Senior Assistant Registrar Chiamiko Chimkwita Phiri stated in sworn affidavit that on November 8, 2011, the students were found in possession and did in fact use reference materials in the examination room.

Phiri stated that on 29th December, 2011 Mzuni called the students to a disciplinary hearing that was scheduled for 10th January 2012.

“After the hearing the Disciplinary Committee found as a fact that the allegations were substantiated and noted that academic fraud was a serious matter and invoked the relevant section to expel them. There was no procedural irregularity,” she said.

But Justice Madise found that the Senate Academic Disciplinary Committee was not properly constituted “therefore whatever decision they made was a total nullity thus without any force at law whatsoever”

“Secondly the absence of witnesses was another violation of Regulation 4.1.11 (ii) of the Mzuni Student Handbook,” Madise said.

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