Dept treated court with contempt - activists

2012-07-12 21:06

Johannesburg - The department of basic education has treated the Eastern Cape High Court in Grahamstown with "contempt", education activist groups said on Thursday.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's legal team had not been prepared to proceed in a court case regarding teacher post provisioning on Thursday, the Centre for Child Law, Section27 and the Legal Resources Centre said in a joint statement.

"Once again the minister... and her department treated the court, and all the parties before the court, with contempt," they said.

"Despite having had more than a month to file an affidavit, the minister delayed doing so."

Section27 said the "crucial case" had been brought by the Centre for Child Law and five governing bodies.

"The case concerns the unequal and unfair distribution of teachers to schools in the province and the failure of the Eastern Cape department of basic education to implement their own 'post provisioning plan' for 2012."

The Centre for Child Law and the other applicants have argued that the department's failure to fill the vacant posts is in breach of pupils' right to basic education.

Section27 said "thousands" of teaching posts remained unfilled.

The groups said Motshekga filed a brief affidavit on Tuesday, in which she aligned herself with the provincial education department's case.

"A day later, the heads of argument filed by the minister dealt only with the technical issue of urgency: she argued that because learners had been without teachers for seven months, there is no reason to treat the matter as urgent at this late stage," they said.

The department's representatives had sought to delay the matter so that more interested parties could join the proceedings.

However, the judge had said there should be no unnecessary delay in the hearing, to which the government's legal team responded by requesting an adjournment.

"The reason was immediately obvious: they had come to court unprepared to argue the case and assuming that they would win on the point of non-urgency".

The case resumes on July 26.

Motshekga's spokeswoman Hope Mokgathle said the department would respond once its legal team had read the groups' press statements.