Battle over school’s closure rages on

2009-12-31 00:00

ATTEMPTS by the trustees of the Juma Musjid Primary School in Durban to close the school by giving effect to a court order they obtained in September continued in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The governing body of the school is opposing the application by the trustees on grounds that before any steps are taken to effectively close the school, the court should await the outcome of an application for leave to appeal, which has been lodged with the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Judge Pete Koen will give a ruling on the issue today.

The school property was bestowed by government grant on the Juma Musjid Trust, which ran a government school there from 1957.

The trustees last year applied to the high court to close the school on the grounds that it is no longer viable to run.

However, the move was opposed by the governing body, parents and other interested parties.

In September, Judge Koen granted an eviction order in terms of which the occupants were required to vacate the school by December 15, failing which the sheriff was authorised to evict them.

One of the nine co-trustees of the Juma Musjid Trust, Ahmed Vally Mahomed, submitted in an affidavit that the application by the governing body for leave to appeal to the SCA is a last-minute attempt to frustrate the execution of the eviction order for as long as possible.

He submitted that the application for leave to appeal has no prospect of succeeding.

Mahomed said it should be noted that the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department acquiesced to the September judgment and accepted that the school has to be vacated by December 15.

In preparation, he said, the department did an audit of the school assets, gave notice to the teachers of their transfer to other schools and placed a moratorium on the admission of new pupils in 2010.

He said the pupils will be able to receive education at other schools, and added that for each year that the school remains in occupation of the premises, the trust stands to lose more than R345 000 per annum.

The chairman of the governing body, Mohamed Fareed, said the application for leave to appeal is “anything but frivolous” and rejected the suggestion that it was filed “at the last minute”.

He disputed that the department acquiesced to the judgment, and said correspondence indicates that pending the SCA ruling, the department will not act to remove or redistribute assets at the the school; will not proceed with transfers of teachers; and accepts that the judgment delivered by the high court is not final until the appeal process is finalised.

He submitted that if the court were to allow the school to be ejected from the premises (without waiting for the SCA ruling) a victory in the SCA would be hollow since the school’s demise “would be all but complete”.

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