News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
7 Feb 2018
7:00 am

ConCourt ‘must rule on Overvaal’

Ilse de Lange

Education head raises 12 points of review after high court decision.

A protestor throws tires over the gate of Hoerskool Overvaal in Vereeneging on 18 January 2018. Members of the ANC, EFF and parents protested outside the school due to a court ruling supporting the school not include English First Language students this year as it is an Afrikaans school. Picture. The protest turned violent, with police using stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. Yeshiel Panchia

The Gauteng education department believes the Constitutional Court should pronounce onceand-for-all on the issue surrounding the admission of English pupils to the Afrikaans Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging to put an end to the controversy as soon as possible.

The department has applied for leave to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) against a high court ruling in Pretoria which set aside the department’s directive that the school must admit 55 English medium pupils this year, thus becoming a dual medium school.

It has also filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, should the Constitutional Court turn down the department’s bid for direct access.

The head of the department, Edward Mosuwe, sited the sustained controversy, demonstrations and racially polarized confrontations at the school, which has led to bloodshed, among the reasons why it was in the interest of justice for the Constitutional Court to hear the appeal.

He said the department needed to bring calm to the situation at the school, which could erupt again at any moment and sought to avoid a situation where the unfortunate incidents around the admissions process at Overvaal was repeated in next year’s admissions process either at Overvaal or at other schools in the province.

Mosuwe said it was important that the correct procedure for the ventilation of disputes in the courts should be determined before any such disputes reached the courts.

He said there was a public interest in a decision to protect other pupils in 2019 from suffering the same fate in court hearings that were heard in their absence and without them being afforded a chance to state their case.

“They’re entitled to a final decision that will ensure that they know where they stand in time to act on that knowledge at the start of the 2019 school year,” he said.

Mosuwe stressed that the school was situated in an area in which Afrikaans speakers were a minority, with over half of the school’s pupils coming from outside a 5km radius.

He raised 12 grounds of review, including the non-joinder of the 55 affected children, the school’s capacity and the capacity of neighbouring schools and attacked the judge’s finding that the Afrikaans community was “an embattled minority group against whom the department was biased” as not being based on facts.

– isledl@citizen.co.za

Parents threaten to burn down Overvaal

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