MEC Schäfer accused of engaging with Oudtshoorn eviction case haphazardly

Community members in Grootkraal have been fighting the eviction since the Kobot Besigheids Trust issued the Western Cape Education Department with a notice in 2009.

FILE: Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schafer. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer, has refuted a judge’s finding that the department has not complied with a court order around an eviction matter involving a school and a church in Oudtshoorn.

The Western Cape High Court on Tuesday postponed an eviction application brought by the landowner, the Kobot Besigheids Trust, to October.

Community members in Grootkraal have been fighting the eviction since the trust issued the provincial Education Department with a notice in 2009.

Judge Elizabeth Baartman says the Western Cape Education Department has not suggested any permanent alternative to accommodate learners from Grootkraal Primary School.

Baartman has accused the education MEC of having “engaged with the matter in a haphazard manner... with no permanent solution in mind”.

The judge says the department and the MEC have not complied with a 2011 court order, which states officials must consult the community and parents before relocating or closing the school.

Schäfer, however, says they have complied with that order but have been waiting for the judgment before deciding on the next step.

"We have engaged with the trust in 2011 to try and come to an agreement on a lease. We could not reach an agreement on the amount of the lease.

“We were paying a very favourable amount prior to that time and we have made various offers subsequent to this order."

Schafer says she is consulting with her legal team.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)