Cape Town - The Department of Basic Education is facing a slew of lawsuits amounting to millions of rand over several allegations against the department, including the death or injury of learners.
Minister Angie Motshekga said that in nine cases they were sued over the injury or death of learners, and in other cases, they were taken to court over contractual disputes and other cases related to labour disputes with teachers.
But the legal bill against the department was also mounting.
Motshekga said during the 2018/19 financial year, they faced 38 lawsuits, and the following year 42 cases were brought against them in court.
The litigation costs increased from R1.4m in the 2018/19 period to R12.8m the following year.
She said in most of the cases, it was the provincial MECs that were sued, with her being cited as a respondent in the court papers.
Motshekga said during the 2018/19 financial year when they faced civil claims, the national department spent R1.4m on litigation.
“The department did not spend on each case. In many of the cases, the Minister is cited with the MECs, and in such cases, the cost is covered by the province. The department spent R 1 459 000 in litigation cost in the 2018/2019 financial year,” said Motshekga.
She said the cases related to several disputes involving the department and other people.
“There were eight cases relating to contractual disputes; nine cases relating to claims for injury or death of a learner; 10 cases relating to constitutional or administrative law issues; one case relating to pension payment of an educator; two cases relating to examination issues; one case each for defamation, copyright infringement and motor vehicle collision and five cases relating to labour disputes of educators,” said Motshekga in a written reply in Parliament.
The question was asked by DA MP Desiree van der Walt who wanted to know about the lawsuits against the department.
Motshekga also said many of the cases were ongoing or dormant. But the department settled three cases and won one.
She said they did not lose any case.
Motshekga said during the 2019/20 financial year they were facing 42 cases in court.
“There were 11 cases relating to contractual disputes; 10 cases relating to claims for injury or death of a learner; six cases relating to constitutional or administrative law issues; one case relating to pension payment of an educator; seven cases relating to examination issues; one case each for defamation, copyright infringement and motor vehicle collision and four cases relating to labour disputes of educators,” said Motshekga.