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Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court ruling to halt the closure of 17 schools in the new year is a groundbreaking judgement, provincial ANC chairman Marius Fransman said on Friday.
“This judgment has an effect here, it has an effect everywhere else in South Africa, where everyone will now consider deeply when they want to close any school,” Fransman said.
This was after Judge Siraj Desai granted the schools, their governing bodies and the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) an urgent interdict.
He said he looked forward to a final review application to be heard in the same court sometime in the new year.
“We fought a fight for every school and we believe with the review process we will save all of these schools,” said Fransman.
He praised Lavis Drive primary school principal Brenda Davids, who first brought the matter to the attention of teacher unions.
“I saw the tears of this woman... the day she decided she can't see children suffering, that day she became a victim of the DA (Democratic Alliance) provincial government.”
Davids said since hearing the school would be closed, they twice received a letter informing them that the electricity would be cut.
Fransman believed this was a form of victimisation, and warned schools this type of action could continue following the court victory.
Reacting to the ruling, Davids said: “We just got a letter on the 28th of May saying the school will close... that was a very sad day for us, but today, the 21st of December, is a happy day.”
Sadtu Western Cape secretary Jonavon Rustin welcomed the ruling and said it sent out a strong message to premier Helen Zille and education MEC Donald Grant.
“We came here to tell Helen Zille that you will not mess with the communities,” he said.
In terms of the ruling, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) would have to continue to provide subsidies and full support to the affected schools.
“The respondents (Grant and the WCED) are directed to take all reasonable steps, including but not limited to the employment of temporary teachers and the renewal or reinstatement of leases, to ensure that all necessary services are provided to the said seventeen schools,” Desai ruled.
The judge said while colleague Elizabeth Baartman was in agreement with the ruling, Judge Dennis Davis “differed with the order on principle”.
Eighteen schools originally contested the closure, but one of the institutions, Tonko Bosman in Somerset West, agreed to closure. - Sapa