Interdict rules against school

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Determination finally paid off for two KwaZulu-Natal mothers who won a court interdict against Hunt Road Secondary School in Durban. The school will now not be able to force poor parents to pay school fees.

The court interdict was awarded to the parents by the Durban high court on Friday.

The case has been in and out of court since last year. The test case was initiated by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies to deal with schools who force poor and single parents to pay fees.

Poor parents approached the centre after they were told that the school would confiscate their goods and property if they did not pay fees. The school then sued the parents.

Faranaaz Veriava of the centre said the two women had tried to apply for exemptions from payment of fees, but the applications were not processed in terms of the law.

She said the centrewas aware of at least 10 other such cases.

Veriava said: "Both women were eligible for exemptions from payment of school fees and should not have been sued."

Lawyers argued that the school had failed to comply with its obligations in terms of the law and that such failure was unlawful and constituted a violation of pupils' rights to education.

The interdict would prevent the school from proceeding with any actions taken against parents after January 26 last year, unless the school could provide proof the parents would not have qualified for exemptions.

"The case is a class action suit with [the centre] and the two mothers acting on behalf of all parents whose children attend Hunt Secondary School, who are poor and are eligible for exemption from fees, but who cannot act in their own names because of poverty and lack of awareness of their rights."