Juma Musjid Constitutional Court judgment on Monday

2011-04-08 14:33

The governing body of the Juma Musjid Primary School in Durban would on Monday, April 11 2011, hear if they must vacate their school property, which has housed the school since the late 1950s.

The Constitutional Court would deliver judgment in the appeal by the governing body, the parents, guardians and caregivers of pupils at the school against an order by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

The High Court found in favour of an order evicting the school from the property owned by the Juma Musjid Trust.

The matter follows after the trust permitted the department of education to run a public school on its premises in terms of the South African Schools Act subject to the conclusion of a lease agreement between the province and the school.

During the last renewal the province and the trust failed to agree on the terms of a lease.

The trust, on notice, terminated the occupation of the premises and the provincial department of education did not oppose the application.

The governing body, parents, guardians and caregivers argued in court that by allowing a public school on the premises, the trust performed a public function within the ambit of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

They also submitted that the Provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act should also be applicable.

The High Court rejected these contentions and held that the trust was entitled to the property.

The provincial and national government representatives who were joined in the proceedings did not oppose the application in the High Court.

Arguing the matter in the Constitutional Court the governing body and others said that the High Court failed to exercise its constitutional obligation to develop the common law regarding the trust’s contractual rights of ownership, taking into account the right to basic education and the best interests of the children.

They contend that the trust performed a public function and that it has a duty to provide education under the Constitution.

The trust said that it has not infringed the learners’ right to basic education and that the right to basic education does not entail a right to demand that the education be offered at the trust’s premises.

The Centre for Child Law and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute have been admitted as friends of the court in the matter.

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