Zim schoolboy keeps dreadlocks

Harare, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's supreme court has ordered a government school to readmit an eight-year-old schoolboy who was expelled for wearing dreadlocks, his lawyer said on Friday.

"The supreme court has ordered that the school be barred from refusing the boy entry into class or interfering with his education," lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe said.

"This means schoolchildren can now wear dreadlocks as long as their parents approve. Others may disapprove and say we are opening floodgates for dreadlocks in schools but this is what the law says."

Authorities at Ruvheneko Primary School in Harare, where Farai Benjamin Dzvova was a grade one pupil, threw the boy out of class in January last year, saying his hairstyle went against school rules.

He had been readmitted on a temporary basis after the high court issued a provisional order stopping the authorities from expelling him until the supreme court judgement.

The boy's family practises Rastafarianism whose adherents are known for keeping long flowing dreadlocks.

"The school head would lock him up in solitary confinement or order him to sit on the floor as punishment saying he was defying school rules which say pupils should be keep their hair well-kempt at all times," the lawyer said.

The boy won a reprieve in the high court pending the outcome on the supreme court appeal in which his lawyers charged that his constitutional rights to freedom of religion and protection from discrimination had been infringed.

The boy is the third Zimbabwean to win the right to keep their Rastafarian hairstyle after lawyer Munyaradzi Gwisai was allowed to practise with his dreadlocks and while a journalist won the right to have a passport photograph while wearing his dreadlocks.

Others however have not been so lucky. Three members of the Zimbabwean cricket team were ordered to cut off their dreadlocks during the cricket World Cup earlier this year.