[lg policy] South Africa: Court fight after pupils barred from Vereeniging school

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Jan 10 10:19:40 EST 2018


Court fight after pupils barred from Vereeniging school

News <https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/news> / 10 January 2018, 06:28am
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Thloriso Mofokeng speaking in the high court to parents who want their
children admitted to Hoërskool Overvaal. Picture: Bongani
Shilulbane/ANAPretoria
- Enough is enough. Our children cannot wake up at 4am just because the
only high school in their area refuses to transform.

This was said at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, which was filled with
parents from Vereeniging and surrounding areas, who had came to support the
Department of Education, after it was taken to court by a school in the
area.

Hoërskool Overvaal hauled the department before court through an urgent
application to bar it from forcing the school to accept an additional 55
pupils from the area.

Tlhoriso Mofokeng, chairperson of the Overvaal Transformation Committee,
said parents from the area had been battling to get their children accepted
into the school since 1992.

Mofokeng said parents started calling on the department to intervene and
take heed of the battle they were facing with the school.

He said it was completely unfair to parents and children who had to travel
more than 15km to neighbouring areas to attend school.

This was because the only high school in the area refused to become
inclusive.

*Read: Hoërskool OverVaal: 'All we asked for was dual-medium'
<https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/hoerskool-overvaal-all-we-asked-for-was-dual-medium-12662015>*

“It is the only high school in the area covering six suburbs.

"You will find that your child will have to start preparing themselves at
4am while schools only start at 7.45am,” Mofokeng said.

He added: “We don’t want to change the school just because we want blacks
there.

"We want our children to be afforded the opportunity to learn like everyone
else in this country. Why should we have to fork out an additional R6000
with a school right there?”

Judge Bill Prinsloo said the school lodged the application on December 20,
which afforded the department the opportunity to respond by January 4.

Judge Prinsloo said despite a communication gap which resulted in the
department only receiving the communication nine days later, it still
managed to respond using the online system on January 2.

Advocate Albert Lamey, representing the school, requested the matter be
stood down for one day to allow for all representatives and Judge Prinsloo
to consider the contents of the lengthy submissions made by the school.

Advocate Kumbira Toma, the department's representative, requested four days.

But Judge Prinsloo insisted the matter be resolved as speedily as possible
as schools were due to open on January 17.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the postponement was fair as a
late affidavit had been filed by the school.
*[image: Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona]**Gauteng Education
spokesperson Steve Mabona at the Gauteng High Court , Pretoria. Picture:
Bongani Shilulbane/ANA*

Mabona said however it was quite sad that schools had to resort to taking
the department to court when the department had proof that they had space.

He said: “We want access to education for all.

"We offered to give them an educator, learner material and as such we don’t
understand the resistance to accommodate other learners.

"All we asked for was dual-medium,” Mabona said.

Moreover, he added, the School Governing Body (SGB) had gone over and their
responsibility, involving themselves in the process of admission of pupils.

Even though the school allegedly has 22 classrooms and the capacity to
accommodate 840 pupils, it had capped the number at 621.

Mabona said even with the additional entrants, the school would still be
well below its maximum capacity, by having 21 classrooms accommodating 40
pupils per class.

In court papers seen by the Pretoria News, the department had as of 2016,
rejected the school's language policy and engaged the SGB on taking English
pupils from this year.

In addition, the department denied any allegations that it had denied a
round table meeting with the SGB.

Assertions that space was available for pupils at Phoenix High School and
General Smuts High School were also denied by the department.

It noted that Phoenix High School had already taken in 1640 pupils and
General Smuts High School had 1000 in all.

The matter was postponed to Thursday.

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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