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Durban - Parents at fee-paying government schools must honour their obligations and pay all outstanding school fees.

That's the provincial Department of Education's directive after complaints by pupils from Ogwini Comprehensive High school in uMlazi that the school withheld their annual results because their fees had not been paid in full.

Thembelani Gumede turned to social media to question whether it was legal for a school to withhold a matric results statement, after the school refused to provide his sister with hers because R900 of her R1800 school fees allegedly remained unpaid. Gumede's sister, Thembeka, received her statement yesterday after their aunt paid the balance.

“I had paid the R900 and after I lost my term job I could not pay any more and my parents cannot afford to pay. Last week my sister went to collect her statement, but was told that she would not receive it until she had paid all the school fees,” Thembelani said.

“This is not the first time this school has done something like this. On the day my sister went to collect her statement she was with other pupils who also owed the school money. They all came back empty handed,” he said.

Ogwini Comprehensive High school principal Vusumuzi Dlamini said parents should make arrangements with the school to pay the fees.

“We don't have arrangements with the children but with the parents. If a parent comes and makes an arrangement, the reports are released. As we speak, we are releasing the statements to parents who have come,” he said.

He said it was expensive to operate the school and at times some parents were dishonest and dodged their responsibility to pay. “They give us wrong numbers and when we try to track them down, we cannot find them,” he said.

Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said MEC Kwazi Mshengu had issued a circular to schools, ordering them not to withhold results.

“We also say to parents at fee-paying schools that they must honour their obligations. They must come to the school and make arrangements. If they do not pay, we have challenges meeting the school's needs.”

He said if parents engaged with a school to make arrangements to pay, it would release the report card.

DA education spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka said the actions of the principal were “wholly illegal” and therefore unacceptable.

“The principal must be condemned for putting this young person's life on hold and for the complete disregard of any plea to do the right thing,” he said.

The Mercury