THE Kabwe magistrate's court yesterday convicted a headmaster and seven teachers after finding them guilty of examination malpractices.
The convicts, who were sent to detention until the day of sentencing, were accused of writing Grade Nine examinations on behalf of 10 pupils.
This is in a case in which the seven were appearing in court for loss and misuse of examination papers contrary to Section 20 of the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) Act Chapter 137 of the Laws of Zambia.
The ruling, involving a headmaster of Chikokomene Basic School in Chibombo District and others, took more than two hours in a packed court room.
Innocent Mwansa, Morven Muleya, Ngosa Chinkuna, Kazhila Kazhila and Charles Lisyelo were facing one count each, while Chrispine Monteiro and Foster Chembo were facing two counts.
Facts were that on November 14, 2012 the seven were alleged to have been in possession of a Grade Nine Civics paper recklessly or negligently and did use such examination paper contrary to the law.
And in his ruling, magistrate Mweene said the prosecution team proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the convicts wrote examinations on behalf of the pupils.
"How do you explain the evidence that some of the pupils the handwriting was so bad and had a lot of rubbing, while in the other subjects they were neat. How possible is it to change overnight," he asked.
"I have no reason to speculate over the allegations levelled against you since you opted to remain silent. On the other hand, failure for an accused person to remain silent only strengthens the prosecution evidence according to Judge Evans' ruling in the Kalenga vs the people and I have no doubt in my mind that you committed the said crime," he said.
He convicted the seven and set March 6, 2013 as date for passing of sentence and remanded them in custody.
The convicts looked shocked as they were led to the holding cells before being taken to prison.
Late last year, magistrate Smart Mweene found the seven with a case to answer but the accused opted to remain silent and did not call any witnesses.
During trial, chief inspector Thomas Phiri, handwriting expert, told the court during examination-in- chief by State prosecutor Lameck Ngoma that after examining the examination answer sheets in question for Civics and Geography and the handwriting samples for the teachers, he was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the teachers wrote the two papers on behalf of the pupils.