matric exams south africa
The High Court ruled today that matriculants will not have to resit the leaked exams. Photo: SA News

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has today set aside the decision to rewrite the Mathematics Paper 2 and Physical Sciences exams, following a leak of the exams papers.

Judge Norman Davis ruled in favour of AfriForum and the organisation’s co-applicants who were four matriculants. The court ruled that the decision of Minister Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, regarding the rewriting of the final exams was ultra vires and unconstitutional. The respondents, who opposed the case, were further instructed to pay AfriForum’s legal costs for the application.

The court finding today means that no matriculant that acted bone fide has to take the supplementary exam and that their first attempt will be marked and the marks will be made available.

Last week, Motshekga had announced that the 2020 matrics had to rewrite the final exam in Mathematics II and Physical Science II on 15 and 17 December 2020, after quality assurance council Umalusi concluded that the integrity and credibility of the paper had been irrevocably compromised.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), AfriForum and other interested parties approached the court to have the decision to rewrite overturned.

Judge Norman Davis handed down judgment on Friday afternoon where he set aside the decision taken by the Basic Education Department for a national rewrite.

“I therefore conclude that the decision to have the Math II and Physical Science II papers of the National Senior Certificate examination of 2020 rewritten was irregular and unlawful and should be reviewed and set aside.

“I further conclude that the learners have a right to have their exam papers marked in terms of regulation 45, which provide for such right, irrespective of whatever proposal or certifications may be made by Umalusi,” he said.

Umalusi had based its decision on the inability to accurately determine the extent of the leak of the exam papers. The quality assurance council said due to the nature of the leak through messenger service WhatsApp, it was impossible to determine the extent of the leak.

AfriForum said it “welcomes the court finding and considers it not only as a victory for the almost 400 000 matriculants who would have been disadvantaged by Minister Motshega’s decision, but also as a victory against the Department’s unfair, arbitrary and one-sided decision in this regard. We urge the Department to now focus on arresting the guilty parties to ensure that the integrity of the exams is beyond reproach,” says Natasha Venter, Advisor on Education Rights at AfriForum.

AfriForum will further request that the Department make known what steps will be put in place to prevent similar transgressions in the future.