Chatsworth church to return school property seized in court fight
The property was removed to make up for legal costs, after the school governing body (SGB) lost a court case against a church which rented classrooms for its services.
SGB chairperson Bruce Moodley confirmed he picked up the property shortly after a sheriff of the court drove off with the goods to sell to the highest bidder.
The goods included tables, chairs, printing machines and a computer.
Temple of Jerusalem took Summit Primary’s SGB to court for denying them a place of worship.
According to court papers, the church had been renting three classrooms for prayer meetings and Sunday morning services. Last year, despite paying rent timeously, the congregants were locked out of the school several times.
They approached the SGB, which allegedly refused to resolve the matter amicably. The church, as a result, sought relief from the Durban High Court and obtained a court order, in March 2019, to prohibit the premises from being locked.
The order was made with costs. The legal costs incurred amounted to R18 000 but the church’s attorney agreed to settle on R15 000. The SGB failed to pay the amount, which escalated to R23 000.
Five months ago, the church obtained a Writ of Execution. This allowed them to enter the school premises and compile an inventory of movable goods, and attach goods for auction to the sum of R23000.
But once the items were taken, the parents demanded they be returned and the SGB be dissolved.
A lawyer’s letter from UB Pillay, a senior legal adviser from Legal Services, was sent on behalf of the principal to the church’s attorney.
Pillay stated that the principal provided them with a high court order, taxed bill of costs, writ of execution and the sale notice for the auction set down.
“Please note that in terms of Section 58 A (4) of the South African’s School’s Act - no school’s assets can be attached.”
Pillay referred to a 2019 Constitutional Court judgment of D Moodley v Kenmont School. It confirmed that the school assets may not be attached or held and that the SGB was responsible for the payment of the legal costs occasioned by litigation.
Two weeks ago, the church’s attorney said an agreement was subsequently made with the SGB, for the items to be returned and payment to be made.
“There was an agreement to stay the sale and we have released the items to the school. The SGB has since made their first payment in terms of the agreement,” said the attorney, who declined to be named.
Kwazi Mthethwa, the spokesperson for the department, said they were confident the district would handle the matter.
“Teaching and learning are of paramount importance and we will do everything in our power to ensure it is not affected.”