AfriForum assists Nkandla community in court battle for school
The community with the help of AfriForum took its fight to the Pietermaritzburg High Court this week.
Chief Zakhe Mpungose said: “A village that does not prioritise the education of its children is a dead one. We will fight until the Department of Education builds this much-needed school in our impoverished village.”
The Mpungose traditional council approached the court to force the department to build the school it promised them in 2007.
The matter was heard on Friday.
MEC for Education, Mthandeni Dlungwane, was cited as the first respondent in court documents.
After exhausting all avenues, Mpungose said the community approached the lobby group AfriForum in February to assist, in what he termed a David versus Goliath bout.
AfriForum’s chief executive officer, Kallie Kriel said: “They told us their story and it was clear that what was happening to them was unjust.
“This case is part of core business to make sure that justice is done. We are happy about the fact they approached us.”
Mpungose said they were “deliberately frustrated” by the provincial education department but insisted that they remain unshaken.
According to court papers, the community applied for the school in 1996.
However, the application was unsuccessful. In 2002, the community reapplied and again the application bore no result.
Finally, in 2007, the department gave the green light for the high school to be built. Ina Cronje was the MEC for education at the time.
According to the court papers, R7million was set aside.
Three years later, during Senzo Mchunu’s tenure, the school was allocated a number to indicate its place on a waiting list to be built.
“The community was excited,” recalled Mpungose. “But to this day, not a single brick has been laid. This is a gross human right violation because many children in my area walk long distances to their school. This is unacceptable.”
The court papers further states that: “Then, on 16 February 2017, without notice or consultation, the MEC (Dlungwane) withdrew the decision of his predecessor in office to register and establish Khuba, (the name that was suggested for the school).
Fikile Magubane, a parent, and community member, said: “We thought that our dream to have a high school in our village had become a reality when the number was allocated. But to our dismay, nothing has happened. We will continue to fight.”
She represents the community on a task team that was assembled by the department to facilitate the construction of the school.
Hundreds of community members were ferried by buses from Nkandla to court.
Community member Nqobizitha Mbatha, 55, said: “We are uneducated because schools were far away from where we stayed when we were growing up.
“We are going to fight for our children to get quality education because we want to see them becoming better people as compared to us.”
Judgment was reserved.