Hoërskool Overvaal saga: Judge's five most scathing quotes
The judgment by the High court in Pretoria left the Gauteng department of education with egg on its face‚ with Judge Bill Prinsloo criticising the manner in which the education authorities pursued the Hoërskool Overvaal admission saga. The judge was also critical about the way the department conducted itself in the case.
Here are five of the most scathing quotes from Judge Prinsloo on Monday.
On whether language policy was relevant in a school’s admission processes:
“I cannot‚ with respect‚ accept the argument offered on behalf of the (Gauteng department of education) that language is irrelevant in deciding whether or not a school can be forced to accept learners seeking tuition in a language other than that offered in a school. For all these reasons I have come to a conclusion that the decision of (Sedibeng east district director Dorah Moloi) of 5 December offends against the principle of legality.”
On Moloi’s statement in her affidavit that the matter had nothing to do with the school’s capacity to accommodate the 55 learners the department wanted to force on the school but with the school keeping English learners out of the school using its Afrikaans language policy:
“It is regrettably difficult to see how one could realistically expect any measure of objectivity or fair play towards the embattled minority group and their language by a senior official intimately involved in these proceedings who is prepared to disclose her obvious bias in the answering affidavit. In my view‚ there are clear signs of an attempt by (Moloi) to defeat the ends of justice for the reasons mentioned and I respectfully suggest that some senior peers of hers may consider investigating her conduct.”
On the department sneaking in affidavits without prior arrangement with the court:
“The respondents also‚ irregularly‚ attached affidavits‚ handwritten‚ by a so-called cluster leader and a circuit leader‚ containing references to mobile or prefab classrooms. This is an abuse because there is no explanation offered for failure to present this evidence as part of the opposing affidavits … I was also not informed from the bar when there was an application to admit the two new affidavits by the principals that these added documents would be introduced in the bundle to be considered. In my view these affidavits do not take the matter further in any case neither do they mention any figures…this is an abuse and should not be tolerated”
On the legality of Moloi’s December 5 instruction that the school admit the 55 Grade 8 English learners to the school despite the school’s demonstrable lack of capacity:
“The second respondent and perhaps the HOD and the MEC acted in conflict with the constitutional principle of legality…the 5 December decision was unlawful and falls to be set aside on review….the action was taken for the reason not authorised by the empowering provision and irrelevant considerations were taken into account and relevant considerations were not considered…there are also well known grounds of bias and irrational conduct.”
On slapping the department with punitive costs:
“…the costs should follow the result … the respondents‚ as is the case in many other matters in this country involving state litigants‚ have the convenience and the luxury to litigate at will at the expense of the taxpayer.”