Cape Town - A full bench of the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday began hearing argument in a court bid to halt the closure of 18 schools on the Cape Flats and further afield.
The schools, their governing bodies and the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) are seeking an interdict against provincial education MEC Donald Grant and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to prevent the schools being shut down on December 31.
The hearing opened with Judge Dennis Davis demanding a response from the applicants' lawyer, Norman Arendse, to arguments from the department's counsel that he did not have formal instructions from all the school governing bodies to oppose the planned closure.
Grant's lawyer said no affidavit had been received from Tonka Bosman school near Somerset-West.
Arendse said the governing bodies of all schools were in accord that he should bring the application, but conceded that there were not written minutes from all governing bodies confirming this.
Judge Siraj Desai questioned whether it was appropriate on the part of the defence to “resort to that kind of technicality in a case of this magnitude”.
He said he would not refuse to hear the case on those grounds and if necessary, the case would be briefly postponed to allow Arendse to get the necessary written authorisation.
The steps to the court and the public gallery were packed with parents whose children attend the schools, with one woman holding a placard reading “No to forced removals”.
The court is expected to deliver its ruling on Wednesday.
The application seeks to prevent Grant or the department from closing or merging the schools and moving pupils, teachers, and resources.
It also asks for subsidies and salaries to be paid in the interim and that the department be forbidden from interfering in school operations.
Grant announced in October that, after careful consideration, the schools would be closed because of low enrolment numbers, multi-grade classes or a decline in pupil numbers.
Beauvallon Secondary School principal Henry Hockey, in an affidavit on behalf of all applicants, said the closures were unlawful and unconstitutional. - Sapa