Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
FIVE Form Six pupils at Gebhuza Secondary School in Hwange arrested for sharing a leaked Economics Paper 3 question paper have been each sentenced to 12 months in jail, but will all have to perform 350 hours of community service at the school instead.
Initially, 15 pupils had been arrested and charged with revealing the contents of an examination material prior to the exam, unlawful access to examination material and engaging in fraud or dishonest conduct with regards to the exam.
They were all released to appear in court on summons so that they could continue with their examinations and allow investigations to continue.
Five of them who are all above 18 years: Arthur Delight Chuma (20) of Number 2 Village, Nkosilomusa Sibanda (21), Albertina Mbebe (18), Tamika Dube (19) all of Ingagula and Keegan Mduduzi Chigubhu (18) of Empumalanga yesterday appeared in court to answer to a charge of contravening Section 35 (a) of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council Act pertaining to “unlawful access to examination material.”
If it is decided to press charges against the other 10, they would have to be treated as juveniles.
Chuma, Sibanda, Mbebe, Dube and Chigubhu pleaded guilty to the charge when they appeared before Hwange magistrate Ms Barbara Phiri.
They were sentenced to 12 months in jail each, but the magistrate suspended the jail term with conditions. Two months were suspended on condition they do not commit an offence of a similar nature within two years while the remaining 10 months were suspended on condition each completes 350 hours of community service at their school.
They told the court that the question paper was posted in two WhatsApp groups which had members from across the country.
The State case was that the five shared the A Level Economics Paper 3 examination question paper on WhatsApp on October 28, a few hours before the exam.
“On the 27th of October, Chuma, Sibanda and Chigubhu connived to acquire an Economics A Level paper 3 examination question which was due to be written on 28 October at 9am,” said the prosecutor, Mr Trymore Chitumbu.
“Chuma and Sibanda engaged Allan Tsakura who was on two WhatsApp groups known as Business Studies and A Level Accounting, to supply them with an Economics Paper 3 examination question paper.”
Mr Chitumbu said Chuma received an image of the question paper from Tsakura on his WhatsApp number at around 5.58AM and forwarded it to Sibanda, Chigubhu, Mbebe and Dube.
Sibanda and Chigubhu had spent the night at Sibanda’s place of residence waiting for the question paper intending to revise overnight.
After failing to get it at night as promised, they went with the question paper to their teacher Mr Mandras Mandira in the morning when they got it to seek assistance.
Mr Mandira discouraged them from using the question paper assuming it was fake.
Mbebe and Dube also took the question paper image to school where they started revising with other candidates in the examination room.
Later, the teacher discovered that the image of the paper he had seen with the candidates was exactly the same written on the day and alerted the school head.
A report was made to the police.