The government has launched investigations into reports that 100 pupils at Mavhudzi High School in Nyazura, Manicaland Province, were allegedly subjected to HIV tests without the consent of their parents.
REPORT BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Teachers at the school also complained about “massive corruption and nepotism” at the school, which they blamed on the headmaster Elliot Chimbade.
A senior teacher, Nesu Musa, allegedly presided over the tests during the third term in 2011 and the objective remains unknown.
Yesterday she refused to comment on the matter, saying it was being dealt with by the regional education office.
The scandal was exposed in a seven-page petition dated September 12, 2012 signed by teachers and addressed to the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture officials in Nyazura.
Manicaland provincial education officers, only identified as Mushayabasa and Muusha, yesterday refused to comment on the matter, referring all questions to provincial education director Andrew Chigumira.
Efforts to contact Chigumira were fruitless as his office telephone was not being answered.
Muusha was head of the investigation team which also included Mushayabasa that was dispatched to the school in October last year after the petition was handed to the provincial education office.
Education minister David Coltart said he had not seen the petition, but promised that the ministry would investigate the matter.
“Parents should be consulted before pupils are sent for HIV tests,” Coltart said. “The ministry will investigate the matter.”
Chimbade admitted a petition was written, but downplayed it saying the ministry had already resolved the matter.
“The issue had been resolved by the ministry, all is well at the school,” he said.
But sources said although the petition sparked an investigation by the ministry, its findings had not been made public.
On Thursday the probe team from the provincial office visited the school to brief senior staff on their findings and recommendations regarding the petition.
“After the district received the petition, a team of investigators led by education officers from Mutare was dispatched,” said a source.
“After that another team from the regional office led by Muusha was dispatched. This team carried out interviews with teachers and other staff. Auditors were also brought in.”
According to one of the pupils who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, they were told that the nurses who carried out the tests were from a government hospital.
“We were told the nurses who took the blood were from a government hospital in Rusape,” said the pupil.
“We were told that all of us were found HIV negative.”
A meeting of teachers early last year was allegedly told one of the pupils had been found to be positive. Teachers reportedly demanded answers from Chimbade on whether the pupil who was found to be positive had been informed.
The teachers also accused Chimbade of filling vacant positions at the school with his relatives.