Dept: 150,000 textbooks not delivered

Government officials blamed the delay on budgetary constraints.

A photograph taken by the DA leader in Limpopo, Desiree van der Walt, shows boxes abandoned in a hall, apparently full of undelivered textbooks. 3 April 2014. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - More than 150,000 textbooks have still not been delivered to over 30 Limpopo schools for the 2014 academic year, the Basic Education Department confirmed on Tuesday.

Officials say budgetary constraints led to the delay.

Lobby group Basic Education for All (Befa) has approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in a bid to get force the department to deliver all outstanding learning material by the end of April.

It says while the non-delivery of outstanding books is not a violation of the constitutional rights of pupils, it's a major inconvenience.

The department has agreed to provide textbooks to these schools by 6 June, but Befa says that's too late.

Judge Neil Tuchten refused to grant the urgent order, saying it is not useful to do so because the department has already agreed to deliver the workbooks.

The department denied neglecting its constitutional obligations, saying it has distributed more than 6 million books across Limpopo.

The matter has been postponed to Wednesday to allow the department time to file a responding affidavit.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says, "Shortages happen even in the normal course of business because of migration and other reasons that arise.

"We are dealing with that. The issue of deliveries is taking place even as we speak. There are lots of books that have been made available to the warehouses."

In December 2011, the Limpopo Department of Education was placed under administration after it failed to manage its budget.

In June 2012, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was asked to explain why a large number of textbooks were destroyed in the province, despite shortages.