A group of Uitsig High School pupils occupied the school on Monday. The school has been closed by the Western Cape Education Department. Picture: Sisonke Mlamla/African News Agency.
Cape Town - As the court battle between the school governing body of Uitsig High School near Elsies River and the Western Cape Education Department rages on, the pupils and parents of the school have taken their fight to the school grounds.

A bitter dispute rages over the closure of the school, which the department contends is in the pupils’ best interest. On Monday, pupils and parents forced their way onto the premises, demanding the return of their teachers and the resumption of academic activities.

The Western Cape High Court dismissed an earlier application by the SGB to reopen the school which the department closed due to the ongoing maintenance costs associated with recurring vandalism, along with other safety and security issues.

The SGB then approached the Supreme Court of Appeal. Judgment has been reserved, according to Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s spokesperson, Jessica Shelver.

But the pupils say they have nowhere else to go and want their school reopened.

SGB chairperson Sharon Koeberg said they were not given reasons why the department closed the school.

“When we came in yesterday the gates were closed and we were told by security not to enter, but we entered because we want our school to be functional.”

Education activist Lionel Adriaan said they did not want the school to be closed at all. “It is terrible. I can’t imagine a department that would close a school like Uitsig when it’s the only high school in Uitsig with three primary schools. I support the idea to appeal the decision, I won’t rest until the school is kept open.”

Adriaan said most of the parents were unemployed, so it would not be feasible to transport them to other schools further away. “We want our Uitsig not to be closed down.”

The parent of a Grade 8 child, Desiree Emkie, said that after the school was closed last year, her daughter had to travel to Ravensmead High.

“I want my child to be close and study in Uitsig,” she said. Among the 40 pupils and their parents at the school yesterday was Grade 12 pupil Manuel Beukes, who said it was a sad situation. “We stay nearby and we want our school to remain open.”

Beukes said the department was fighting their right to an education.

Shelver said the matter was still before the courts. “Judgment was reserved but we still firmly believe that it is in the best interest of the learners for the school to remain closed.”

Schäfer was quoted last week as saying the school would remain closed unless the SGB was granted an interdict.

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Cape Argus