Cape Town – Fighting to keep open the perilous Uitsig High School in gang-infested Elsies River, former Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to overturn a Supreme Court decision to close it.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer has been served with papers advising her of the school taking her decision to close the school last year to the Supreme Court of Appeal. Ehrenreich argues that in such an instance the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) must keep the school open until the appeal has been heard.
Acting on behalf of the school and its governing body, lawyer Jerald Andrews from Andrews and Co Attorneys, said the effect of his client’s application for leave to appeal was that the operation and execution of the decision to close down the school was suspended pending the SCA’s ruling.
Last year, the school’s closure was ordered and most of the pupils were placed in nearby Ravensmead High School.
There are just fewer than 100 pupils at the school.
The governing body wants the school keys to be given back to the acting principal.
“We also call on you to confirm that the necessary support will be provided to the school, its staff and the pupils by the WCED while the court’s decision is still pending.
“Should you fail or refuse to provide our client’s the requested information, our instructions are to forthwith bring contempt of court proceedings against the department and the MEC,” Andrews said.
Schäfer, however, hit back, saying the court ruled in their favour.
“The status quo must remain. The school will remain closed, unless they get an interdict, (for) it to keep it open, which I really hope they won’t do because it is wasting money and it is not in the interest of the pupils.
“The issue here is Tony Ehrenreich. He has some attachment to the school. He grew up in the area and I can understand people have attachments to schools in certain cases. We all do,” Schäfer said. However, she said in real terms the school was costing the department as it had to be rebuilt.
“The community was literally carrying it away. There are hardly any children there, we cannot justify spending another R60million when there are fewer than 100 children there.
“The matric results are appallingly bad. I would question why someone wants to keep a school open that is dangerous for the children.
“It’s going to waste resources that we do not have,” she said.
Schäfer said another severely vandalised school, Beauvallon Secondary in Valhalla Park, was set for a makeover. Ehrenreich, however, said the school toilets were locked, to deny the pupils who have pitched for school access to basic resources.
“The MEC has removed the teachers and support staff from the school.
“All of this is designed to break the spirit of the pupils and force them to leave the school. The other schools in the area are already overcrowded and they are not no-fee schools,” he said.