Limpopo textbooks case heads to SCA

2014-11-14 15:25

The North Gauteng High Court has granted the basic education department leave to appeal a decision that it had violated the rights of pupils in Limpopo by failing to deliver textbooks to them.

The order, granted this week by Judge Neil Tuchten, means that the matter will now be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

In May, Tuchten ruled that the department’s failure to deliver all textbooks to all pupils in Limpopo by the first day of school translated into the violation of their right to education.

Basic Education For All (Befa), a non-governmental organisation in Limpopo had, through rights lobby group Section27, dragged the department to court for failure to deliver textbooks to all pupils in Limpopo.

At that time more than 18 000 textbooks had not been delivered to more than 23 schools in Limpopo.

But the department had appealed the judgment, saying that asking it to ensure that all pupils in all schools have all their textbooks by the first day of school was a standard of perfection which was neither practical nor possible.

Initially, the department had appealed directly to the Constitutional Court, which refused to hear the case, suggesting that it should be heard by the appeals court first.

Tuchten also granted Befa’s cross appeal. In its initial application, Befa had requested the courts to declare that the department was in breach of a 2012 court order, ordering it to deliver books in Limpopo.

In 2012, Judge Judy Kollapen had ordered the department to deliver textbooks in Limpopo after pupils had spent the first six months of the year without textbooks. The department had not fully complied with that order, and some pupils were still experiencing shortages. Tuchten didn't find that the department was in breach of Kollapen’s order.

Tuchten had also refused to grant an order to compel the department to set up independent mechanisms to monitor the delivery of outstanding textbooks. The Human Rights Commission had said it was willing to assist with the monitoring.

Section 27’s Nikki Stein said: “This is a very important case and it's critical that the Supreme Court of Appeal gives clarity. The department has an obligation to deliver textbooks to all pupils on time”.

The department could not be reached for comment.

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