High court dismisses challenge to June 1 school reopening
The basic education department has welcomed a Limpopo high court order dismissing a challenge to the planned opening of schools on June 1.
The Tebeila Institute of Leadership, Governance and Training challenged minister Angie Motshekga's decision to reopen schools next month.
Tebeila approached the court on an urgent basis, asking it to set aside the minister's decision and to stop the department from implementing the recovery plan for schools in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.
"Judge Gerrit Muller dismissed the case this afternoon [Tuesday], saying that Limpopo high court had no jurisdiction over the matter," said the department in a statement.
"Judge Muller agreed with the department that the competent court would have been the Gauteng division of the court in Pretoria, because that is where the offices of the minister and the department are located - not Polokwane, in Limpopo."
The department said it had argued in court that the planned reopening of schools had been developed together with provinces, other government departments, stakeholders and civil society through a consultative process over a number of weeks.
The announcement proposed tentative dates only, the department said, and that a final date for schools to reopen would be informed by the readiness of schools.
"In the answering affidavit, the director-general Mathanzima Mweli said that 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," said the department.
"Furthermore, a decision to reopen school 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."
The department added that the health ministry would also have to approve the reopening of schools.