Judgement on school closure Friday

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iol news pic Beauvallon Primary INLSA The Education Department will keep Beauvallon Secondary (pictured) and three other schools open pending the outcome of a final review being expedited in court. File picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court will deliver judgment on Friday on an urgent interdict to halt the closure of 18 schools in the province.

“We will make an order at 10am of Friday,” Judge Siraj Desai said on Thursday.

Desai's announcement came after Western Cape premier Helen Zille made a last-minute undertaking to keep four of the schools open, pending the outcome of a final review being expedited in court.

The decision was however rejected by Norman Arendse, acting for parents and teachers of the affected schools.

“We don't accept that just four schools must remain open,” Arendse told the court.

Earlier, Eduard Fagan, acting for the premier, said Zille would keep the Beauvallon, ValPark, Protea and Lavis Drive schools open.

The schools are all situated in urban areas, where opposition to the closures are strongest.

Western Cape MEC Donald Grant maintained low enrolment numbers, multi-grade classes or a decline in pupil numbers were lawful reasons for his decision.

Parents and teachers from affected schools differ, saying the move is unlawful.

They contend their children will have to travel long distances, or through gang-ridden areas to get to class.

Desai questioned the late timing of the premier's announcement, branding it “absolute gamesmanship”.

“Can you accept that the courtroom is not a playground for politicians?,” Desai asked Fagan.

Fagan would not comment on whether Zille's decision was politically motivated.

He denied the premier made a concession, insisting it was an “undertaking”.

Parents and teachers gathered inside the courtroom said they believed the only reason the premier gave the undertaking, was because the four schools were situated in Democratic Alliance strongholds. - Sapa

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