Schools Withdraw Application of Leave to Appeal on School Closures Case
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education
We are pleased to announce that today the 14 schools which appealed to the Constitutional Court against the decision by the Western Cape Education MEC to close them have accepted the Western Cape Government’s proposal that they withdraw their application for leave to appeal on the basis that we will start the process again.
We made this offer, despite the unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal in our favour, for the following reasons:
- The amount of time that has elapsed since the decision to close the schools will be at least four years once the Constitutional Court process is finished. This may render the facts upon which the decision to close was initially taken potentially irrelevant.
- The future of the learners has remained and will remain uncertain pending the finalisation of the matter should this continue in the Constitutional Court.
- Even in the event that the Constitutional Court finds in our favour, which we believe they would, the fact that so many years have elapsed would in our view necessitate that we reassess the situation.
This agreement must not be interpreted in any way to mean that the schools will not close. It merely means that the best interests of the learners will be served because any processes that may need to can proceed without further delay, taking into account any possible change in circumstances since the decision was initially taken.
The Department will look at the situation as a whole in the province and in the event that closure is recommended again, new notices will be published and representations may again be made.
The schools in question also did not pursue their attack on the constitutionality of section 33 of the South African Schools Act in the SCA and are not pursuing such an attack in their Constitutional Court appeal. The only issue they persisted in was how they assert section 33 was implemented, i.e. they do not take issue with the Minister’s right to close schools.
We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.