Durban - The land on which two KwaZulu-Natal schools are located on has been expropriated following a legal battle with the owner, the provincial education department said on Wednesday.
The two affected schools are the Oakford Primary School and Sacred Heart Secondary school north of Durban, near Verulam, it said in a statement.
The land was formally expropriated on Tuesday. The department's head, Nkosinathi Sishi, said the expropriation followed a protracted legal battle with the property owner, Marius Maritz.
“We are happy that henceforth there is not going to be anything stopping these learners from accessing education which is an apex priority for this government,” Sishi said.
Maritz said in a statement that he had sought to have the schools evicted from the property as the department had failed to maintain the school buildings.
He said when the sheriff of the court tried to execute the eviction order, local residents and the schools prevented him from doing so.
Maritz said the department then acted on a previous notice to expropriate that it had published in 2012. The expropriation was carried out in terms of the Schools Act.
Both Maritz and education department spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said an amount for compensation still had to be determined.
The schools and the property were originally owned by the Roman Catholic Church, but Maritz bought the land from the church in 2009. Maritz said no decision had been taken yet on whether to appeal the expropriation.
Mahlambi said he could not recall another expropriation having taken place in the province.