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ConCourt dismisses bid by Maimane's movement to stop schools reopening

05 June 2020 - 15:49 By Ernest Mabuza
One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane has not made a case for direct access to the Constitutional Court, the court said on Friday.
One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane has not made a case for direct access to the Constitutional Court, the court said on Friday.
Image: Twitter/Mmusi Maimane

The Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed an application by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane's One South Africa Movement to halt the reopening of schools.

Maimane said earlier this week the One South Africa Movement had asked the apex court to play a supervisory role in making sure every school was safe.

“This is not a question of whether some schools are ready and others are not. It is about the constitutionality of the fact that every child is guaranteed an education, every child has a right to life, and that ultimately the rights of the child are paramount.”

Maimane last week called on the government to only reopen schools in about three months' time due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an order made on Friday, the Constitutional Court said it had considered the application for direct access to the court on an urgent basis.

“It has concluded that [One South Africa Movement] has not made a case for direct access and thus the application should be dismissed as it is not in the interests of justice to hear it at this stage.”

One South Africa Movement said in reaction to the judgment that it would immediately consult its legal team to consider the options at hand, not ruling out approaching the high court.

It must be made clear, it added, that the Constitutional Court did not consider the merits of the case or pronounce on it. “The court only considered whether it was the appropriate body to adjudicate the case from inception. The merits of our case stand.”

The movement is seeking an order to suspend the reopening of schools for 60 days, during which the government must provide, under the direct supervision of a court, proof of the existence of a comprehensive readiness and implementation plan, which must precede the simultaneous reopening of any grade.

“We maintain that schools are not ready to safely reopen, and doing so will put in danger the lives of students, teachers and support staff as Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

“We cannot risk allowing our country’s places of learning to become Petri dishes for increases in infections which may undo the value of the national lockdown,” said national spokesperson Dipolelo Moime.

The court said it had decided not to award costs.