The doors of 14 schools across the Western Cape will remain open, after the Western Cape Education Department this week agreed to pay a market related rent to the Moravian Church, which owns these properties.
The schools, with a combined total of 5 000 pupils, were facing an uncertain future after the church threatened to evict them because of a dispute with the province over rent.
An application to evict all the schools from church premises was due to be heard in the Cape High Court on Thursday February 11, but this will not go ahead after a settlement was reached the education department on Tuesday, said Shaun Hangone, the church’s attorney.
The application has been postponed to March 8, to give both parties time to conclude new lease agreements, he added.
“We have been holding settlement meetings with the education department since last week and today we reached an agreement. We will provide the department with a new lease that will need to be signed … for all the schools in question,” said Hangone.
The matter came to a head last week when a hundred pupils, teachers and parents from the Oranjekloof Primary School in Hout Bay marched to the provincial legislature in Cape Town, after the school was ordered to vacate the premises by the church.
Oranjekloof was just one of 14 schools on Moravian Church-owned properties rented to the provincial education department, which were facing eviction because of a rent dispute.
Donald Grant, the MEC for Education said in a statement issued on Tuesday that his department and the church had agreed on the terms governing lease agreements on 14 properties owned by the Moravian Church, including Oranjekloof in Hout Bay.
“I am pleased that this matter has now been dealt with and that there will be no need for a costly court action. I am particularly pleased that the future of these schools has been secured for the next nine years,” he said.
Grant also thanked Reverend Lennox Mcubusi, the head of the church, for agreeing to allow the education department to place mobile classrooms at Oranjekloof to help alleviate overcrowding at the school.
“The negotiations were undertaken in good faith and were amicably concluded in the best interests of the close to 5 000 learners, who are housed on properties owned by the Moravian Church,” said Grant.
Oranjekloof principal Enid Davis said: “I’m very glad that the issue has been addressed, but it is very sad that parents had to go through so much. We want what’s best for the children, and education is their constitutional right.”