Education says it has settled Sants debt

2014-02-05 00:00

THE Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal says that the money due to Sants Private Higher Education Institution has been paid.

According to a statement issued by the department, its debt with Sants was settled on January 28.

It was heard in the Pietermaritzburg high court last month that the department had yet to pay “a single cent” of the R36 million in student bursaries that it was ordered to pay Sants by a court on November 26 last year.

Judge Pete Koen then ordered the department to publish and distribute a letter to Sants students, making it clear that they are still entitled to their bursaries if they continued their studies at Sants.

With no payment from the department forthcoming, Sants, a teacher training institution, attached 708 of the department’s vehicles in lieu of the debt.

While the department yesterday said Sants has been paid, Sants spokesperson Kobie van Zyl said there were “a few rands” outstanding.

He confirmed to The Witness that the department had paid the R32 million owed to them, but said the 15,5% interest due on the money is yet to be received.

“If they don’t pay the interest by February 10, some of the vehicles will be auctioned to cover the money,” Van Zyl added.

Sants said the judge had ordered the department to pay both the capital amount and the interest.

Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni’s spokesperson Bhekisisa Mncube threatened to take away Sants’s operating licence if it persisted with demands for the interest.

“As far as we’re concerned, the issue with Sants has been concluded … They wanted the money, they got the money. We can’t be held to ransom by a private institution,” Mncube said.

He said Sants insistence on payment of the interest could force the hand of the government to intervene by terminating its agreement and taking away its licence.

“We can drag them to court for six years to get their licence back,” he threatened.

Mncube said Sants should focus on producing teachers that South Africa will be proud of, because the department’s patience is running out.

The department was dragged to court after failing to pay the fees of about 1 260 underprivileged students who studied at Sants in 2012.

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