WC schools project set to sue education dept

The Soweto Focus Points (SFP), which was shut down following the refusal of the Gauteng department of education to endorse its project, is expected to sue the department to recover R150 million in losses.

In a statement, SFP managing director Channon Merricks accused the

department of landing him into debt when it failed to approve his project to

accommodate backpackers for the ongoing 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

The project had earmarked 260 schools around the country. They were

converted into accommodation for an expected 46 000 soccer spectators.

Merricks was already accommodating about 2 300 people when he finally decided to

call it quits.

His decision followed a letter written by Boy Ngobeni, head of

department in Gauteng, on June 15, which explained that the department

was not in a position to support his initiative.

Merricks said the letter “in essence meant that we could not use

the schools as initially envisaged”.

He said he had entered into contracts with service providers,

purchased equipment and had promised to pay rental fees to schools.

“Numerous senior officials of the department of education have

expressed their appreciation and gratitude (for) the project since it was going

to benefit schools financially and in terms of infrastructure refurbishment,” he

added.

According to Merricks, SFP had initiated legal proceedings to

recover R150 million for alleged “loss of income and costs incurred”, claiming

that the department did not advise him on time about its change of heart.

Charles Phahlane, spokesperson for the education department in

Gauteng, said SFP did not ask for a meeting with the head of the department to

“discuss their project or to ask for authorisation”.

According to Phahlane the school governing bodies were allowed by

the Schools Act to raise funds for their schools but in so doing had to “adhere

to laws and local by-laws including health and safety by-laws”.

The department had written to schools on March 16 warning them

about potential problems if they entered into an agreement to use schools as

accommodation.

Phahlane said SFP only wrote to the department on the “eve of the

World Cup” requesting a letter of support. “We referred them to the letter dated

March 16.

“The truth of the matter is that SFP does not require or need

permission from the department to run this project. Our only concern has been to

ensure that SGBs (school governing bodies) are aware of the potential

liabilities they could face through entering into such agreements and we warned

them accordingly.”

According to him the department had not instructed SFP to stop its

project and neither was it aware of any legal proceedings against it.

 
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As a child or as an adult, have you ever been a victim of bullying?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, at school
55% - 4562 votes
Yes, at work
18% - 1487 votes
No, I've never experienced this
28% - 2296 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.26
(-0.3)
GBP/ZAR
19.76
(-0.2)
EUR/ZAR
17.20
(+0.1)
AUD/ZAR
11.02
(-0.0)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(-0.0)
Gold
1,787.81
(+0.2)
Silver
26.23
(+0.3)
Platinum
1,241.29
(+2.8)
Brent Crude
65.40
(+0.1)
Palladium
2,874.00
(+1.3)
All Share
67,046
(+0.1)
Top 40
61,269
(+0.1)
Financial 15
12,061
(-0.3)
Industrial 25
86,426
(-0.5)
Resource 10
69,308
(+1.0)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo