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Friday, June 18, 2021

Limpopo High Court Dismisses Application to Halt Re-opening Of Schools in June

Nyakallo Tefu 

The Department of Basic Education has welcomed the judgment by the Limpopo High Court which dismissed an application by the Tebeila Institute of Leadership, Governance and Training.

The Institute went to court on an urgent basis to set aside the decision of the minister to re-open schools on June 1.

Judge Gerrit Muller dismissed the case, saying that Limpopo High Court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

He ordered parties to cover their own costs.

Judge Muller also agreed with the department that the competent court would have been the Gauteng Division of the Court in Pretoria because that is where the offices of the Minister and the Department of Basic Education are located, not Polokwane in Limpopo.

The department argued in court that the dates set by the minister for the re-opening of schools were tentative and not final.  

Motshekga said the National Coronavirus Command Council will have the final say depending on how the country is doing as it fights the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The department’s Recovery Plan states that learners will return to school in phases, with Grades 7 and 12 learners set to go back to school first, while teachers will be back on 18 May 2020 to prepare for lessons.

The department further outlined that the contemplated reopening of schools had been developed together with provinces, other government departments, all stakeholders and civil society through a consultative process over a number of weeks.

“Motshekga did not come up with the draft Recovery Plan overnight but it was being developed with rational, considered and responsible input from stakeholders as well as interested and affected parties”, said Basic Education’s Director-General Mathanzima Mweli in the answering affidavit.

In a statement, departmental spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Basic Education would now proceed with its plans as outlined by Motshekga. 

“On the substance of the matter, the department argued that the contemplated reopening of schools had been developed together with the provinces, other government departments, all stakeholders and civil society through a consultative process over a number of weeks. The announcement by the minister was of the proposed tentative dates only. A final date for schools to reopen will be informed by the readiness of schools to reopen,” said Mhlanga.

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