Ruling on W Cape school reserved

2013-06-11 17:37

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Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court reserved judgment on Tuesday on a matter of 17 schools in the province who are disputing a decision to close them down.

Lawyers for School Governing Bodies (SGBs), Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant and his national counterpart Angie Motshekga, concluded arguments in a two-day review application.

Earlier, Grant's legal team argued teacher union Sadtu should pay the legal costs should the schools lose their legal battle to stay open.

Eduard Fagan, for Grant and his department, told the court the matter was clearly politically motivated.

He cited the presence of African National Congress Western Cape chairperson Marius Fransman during proceedings on Monday as proof of this.

The ANC-affiliated SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) is also an applicant in the matter.

Fagan said the province would not be seeking costs from the SGBs, but Sadtu should be made to pay costs because of the political nature of the case.

Fagan on Tuesday concluded his arguments in court, insisting the process leading to the decision to close the schools was legally and procedurally fair. He said the Schools Act did not compel his client to consult affected communities.

The provincial department did, however, give SGBs an opportunity, during public hearings last year, to make representations to Grant on his intention to close schools.

Fagan argued Grant supplied the schools with sufficient reasons for their closure before they were asked to make representations.

The Western Cape education department is in agreement with a minority judgment by Judge Dennis Davis last year. In the minority judgment, Davis said after "anxious reflection" he would only have made an order in the case of two schools.

He found Grant had complied with the Schools Act in allowing representations, and that there was no legal basis for importing the concept "meaningful engagement" into the wording of that section.

The act ultimately empowered Grant to make the final decision on school closures, he said.

His two colleagues, Siraj Desai and Elizabeth Baartman, did not agree and granted the schools an urgent interdict halting the closures, pending the outcome of a final review process.

- SAPA
Read more on:    cape town  |  education  |  local government
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