File photo: Reuters

KwaZulu-Natal -

In a last-minute attempt to hang on to its vehicles, the KZN Department of Education announced on Tuesday that it was going to settle debts, totalling more than R35 million, owed to two of its creditors.

Spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said the department was in the process of paying former pupil Simphiwe Shange, now 26, who was awarded R3.9m damages last year after he was partially blinded when his school’s deputy principal hit him with a belt in 2003.

He also said that Sants - a private higher-education institution offering four-year teaching programmes, which was owed funds for the tuition of more than 1 000 bursary students - had already been paid.

The sheriff attached the department’s 708 vehicles - mostly Toyota Hilux, Isuzu and Nissan Hardbody bakkies - in December after it failed to pay Shange’s claim. The same vehicles were attached last month, after Sants was not paid.

This week, The Mercury reported that the vehicles were to be auctioned because the department had missed the deadline of last Friday to settle Shange’s claim.

But Sants spokesman Kobie van Zyl said that the institution had only been paid the capital amount of just more than R32m.

“The interest owed is still outstanding,” he said. “Should it not be paid by the due date (Monday), the vehicles will be auctioned.”


With regards to Shange, Mahlambi told The Mercury: “We wanted to pay him the money last week, but his lawyers were not registered on our database.” He said the lawyers had since completed the necessary paperwork.


Shange’s lawyer, Elana Hannington, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday. - The Mercury