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Cape Town -
A “pleased” Education MEC, Donald Grant, has been given the go-ahead to appeal against an earlier Western Cape High Court decision that stopped him from closing 17 schools.
On Thursday, a full bench found there was a reasonable possibility an appeal court could come to a different conclusion from that of the original court.
The schools, their governing bodies and the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) had taken Grant’s decision to close the schools, as of December 31 last year, on review.
In July, judges Andre le Grange and Nape Dolamo decided the schools should remain open, ruling that the reasons given for the closures were too brief and that the public consultation process had been inadequate.
The third judge, Judge Lee Bozalek, disagreed.
Last month, Grant announced that, after consultation with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the provincial Education Department’s legal team, he had decided to apply for leave to appeal.
“The judgment does not provide concrete recommendations on how to proceed with school closures, making it virtually impossible to apply the SA Schools Act in such a way as to allow for consistent decision-making”, he said.
On Thursday, the same full Bench who heard the review case gave Grant and his department permission to appeal against the review judgment after Norman Arendse SC, for the schools, did not oppose the application.
Magnus de Jongh, of Save our Schools, said the schools Grant wanted to close were positive, despite Thursday’s decision.
Judge Bozalek also dismissed an application by the schools to cross-appeal about the constitutionality of a particular section of the SA Schools Act.
Arendse said the process Grant had followed to come to his decision to close the schools was unconstitutional.
Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said they were pleased with the court’s decision.