Sants wins another round

2014-01-25 00:00

THE Sants Private Higher Education Institution has won another round of its legal battle against the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.

Yesterday, Judge Pete Koen ordered the department to post a letter on its website by “close of business” tomorrow, making it clear that students are entitled to enrol at Sants and that their bursaries won’t be cut off if they do so.

The court heard that department had yet to pay “a single cent” of the R36 million in student bursaries that it was ordered to pay by a court on November 26.

Advocate Dirk Van Zyl, representing Sants, said they had checked and established there had been no payment shortly before coming to court yesterday.

Sants, a teacher training institution, recently attached 708 of the department’s vehicles in lieu of payment and said it still intends to launch contempt of court proceedings against the department.

The department did not consent to yesterday’s interim court order to publish the letter demanded by Sants on its website.

The department’s advocate, Anand Choudree, denied officials were trying to force students to study at other institutions or threatening to withdraw their bursaries if they continued at Sants.

He also said the department had evidence that many students were unhappy with Sants and did not want to enrol there this year.

But Van Zyl said Sants’s only aim was to “clear up any confusion” created in the minds of students who’d attended meetings held by the department and make it clear to them that they are entitled to study at Sants if they wish.

He invited the court to view TV footage that, he said, demonstrated that students were confused.

Van Zyl also said that if some students were unhappy at Sants and wanted to enrol elsewhere, they could do so, but it must be their own choice.

Judge Koen did not give reasons for his order yesterday.

However, during legal argument he repeatedly said he did not see how the department could be prejudiced by an interim court order that simply required the department to confirm to students what the factual position really was.

The judge said by granting an interim (not a final) order, the door was left open for oral evidence to be led in future to resolve the disputes of fact between the parties, such as what was, or was not, said at the meetings.

In an affidavit before court, Andreas Shangase, the assistant manager at the department’s KZN head office, said it still was not clear exactly how many students were involved.

He said each student qualified for a bursary of R35 000 per annum, adding up to R140 000 each over four years.

The department wanted to do an audit to determine “how many students are real and whether there are any phantom students”.

In the present application, Sants refers to 1 107 students.

Shangase alleged that the department’s attempt to investigate the figures were impeded by Sants, but Sants denies this.

The letter the department was ordered to publish

THE letter that the Department of Education has been ordered to post on its website reads: “You are notified that you are entitled to enrol and study at Sants Higher Education Institution for the degrees of BEd (FP) and BEd (IP) entirely at your own volition. Your bursary agreement will automatically renew for a year at a time until completion of the approved course, provided that you furnish the department with your results after every exam period, as well as your qualification certificate on completion.”

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