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Litigation costing education department

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

The Gauteng department of Education has lost more than R2.8m on litigation cases in the 2018/19 financial year.

The department revealed this in a written response in the provincial legislature.

According to the replies, the department received a total of 75 new cases for the 2018/19 financial year. A total of 37 cases were finalised and the department was successful in 32 cases.

At least five cases were settled out of court and the department managed to save R386,000 from the initial R14.03m.

The department was sued for amounts between R140,000 and R432,678. It was not clear what the department was sued for.

Two cases were for unfair dismissal and the labour court ordered compensation of R10,000 and R523,311, respectively.

DA Gauteng shadow education MEC Khume Ramulifho, who posed the questions, said the money should have been used on deteriorating infrastructure in the province.

"The department has a budget of R1.9bn to build new schools, replace asbestos schools and renovation and maintenance.

"The schools lack specialised classrooms like science laboratories and sporting facilities," Ramulifho said.

When asked if the cases were handled by consultants or the department's legal team and what could have caused the delays, MEC Panyaza Lesufi said all the cases were handled by the department's legal team and offices of the state attorney in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

"The department did not utilise consultants to handle any of the cases. It must be noted that legal processes by nature are lengthy and cumbersome.

"Civil court trials can take longer and are typically set for trial a year or 18 months after being filed," Lesufi said.

He said the reasons for delays included exchange of pleadings and medico-legal reports.

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