Last minute agreement halts eviction of 14 schools

2010-02-10 10:21

THE doors of 14 schools across the Western Cape will remain open,

after the Western Cape Education Department this week agreed to pay a market

related rent to the Moravian Church, which owns these properties.

The schools, with a combined total of 5 000 pupils, were facing an

uncertain future after the church threatened to evict them because of a dispute

with the province over rent.

An application to evict all the schools from church premises was

due to be heard in the Cape High Court tomorrow, but this will not go ahead

after a settlement was reached with the education department yesterday, said

Shaun Hangone, the church’s attorney.

The application has been postponed to March 8, to give both parties

time to conclude new lease agreements, he added.

“We have been holding settlement meetings with the education

department since last week and today we reached an agreement. We will provide

the department with a new lease that will need to be signed … for all the

schools in question,” said Hangone.

The matter came to a head last week when a hundred pupils, teachers

and parents from the Oranjekloof Primary School in Hout Bay, marched to the

provincial legislature in Cape Town after the school was ordered to vacate the

premises by the church.

Oranjekloof was just one of 14 schools on Moravian Church-owned

properties rented to the provincial education department, which was facing

eviction because of a rent dispute.

Donald Grant, the MEC for education, said in a statement issued

yesterday that his department and the church had agreed on the terms governing

lease agreements on 14 properties owned by the Moravian Church, including

Oranjekloof in Hout Bay.

“I am pleased that this matter has now been dealt with and that

there will be no need for a costly court action. I am particularly pleased that

the future of these schools has been secured for the next nine years,” he

said.

Grant also thanked Reverend Lennox Mcubusi, the head of the church,

for agreeing to allow the education department to place mobile classrooms at

Oranjekloof to help alleviate overcrowding at the school.

“The negotiations were undertaken in good faith and were amicably

concluded in the best interests of the close to 5 000 learners, who are housed

on properties owned by the Moravian Church,” said Grant.

Oranjekloof principal, Enid Davis said: “I’m very glad that the

issue has been addressed, but it is very sad that parents had to go through so

much. We want what’s best for the children, and education is their

constitutional right.”

– West Cape News


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