ConCourt ruling to hit moms

2013-09-07 00:00

THOUSANDS of divorced or single mothers across South Africa will be affected by a Constitutional Court order this week that the parent who registered a child at a school is responsible for paying the fees.

In terms of the order, if a single or divorced mother registered a child, the school will hold her responsible for the school fees. This is even if the divorce agreement determines that the father must pay the school.

Article 40 of the Schools Act states that the parent who registers a child is solely and personally responsible for that child’s school fees.

The ConCourt ruling follows in the case of Margaretha Meeding from Sasolburg, whose son studied at Sasolburg’s technical high school.

Her divorce agreement had ordered her ex-husband to pay the school fees, but he disappeared and did not pay. After two years, the school issued Meeding a summons for the overdue school fees.

She argued in court that article 40 is unconstitutional, as it discriminated against single parents — especially mothers who cannot trace the fathers.

Eleven Constitutional Court judges on Thursday refused her application to appeal an earlier refusal to have article 40 declared unconstitutional.

Legal expert Professor Marinus Wiechers said he agreed with the order.

“One can just imagine in what a mire the schools will find themselves if all single parents demand that the biological father or mother pay the children’s school fees,” he said.

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