The Department of Basic Education has welcomed a judgment by the Limpopo High Court dismissing an application seeking to halt the department’s proposed re-opening of schools on 1 June.
The application by the Tebeila Institute of Leadership, Governance and Training, said the Department in a statement, sought to stop the department from implementing the recovery plan for schools in the context of COVID-19.
Judge Gerrit Muller dismissed the case on Tuesday, saying the Limpopo High Court had no jurisdiction over the matter. Instead, Muller said the matter should be heard in the Gauteng Division of the Court in Pretoria, where the offices of the Minister and the department are located.
In its statement, the department said Judge Muller ordered parties to cover their own costs.
On the substance of the matter, the department had argued that the contemplated re-opening 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.
“The announcement of the Minister proposed tentative dates only. A final date for schools to re-open will be informed by the readiness of schools to re-open,” read the statement.
In his answering affidavit, DBE Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli, said Minister Angie 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.
“The decision to re-open schools will only be finally determined after the National Coronavirus Command Centre has approved the school recovery plans and is satisfied with the risk assessment completed.
“Furthermore, the Department of Health’s approval to re-open schools will also be required,” said department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.