One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has lost his Constitutional Court bid to have schools remain closed for a further three months instead of opening on 8 June as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has promised.
Maimane had told the Constitutional Court in the court papers he submitted that Motshekga was putting the reopening of schools before the lives of children.
He claimed that the decision to yet again postpone the reopening of schools, pushing the date a week back, was evidence of the lack of understanding the minister had on the matter, although the highest court in the land saw it differently:
“The Constitutional Court has considered the application for direct access to this Court on an urgent basis,” their judgement, handed down on 5 June read.
“It has concluded that the applicant has not made out a case for direct access and thus the application should be dismissed as it is not the interests of justice to hear it at this stage. The court has decided not to award costs.”
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said that with Maimane’s appeal dismissed, that brings the number of cases brought unsuccessfully against the department to four.
“Another case against [Department of Basic Education] dismissed at the Constitutional Court,” he said.
“This brings to four the cases brought against the Department of Basic Education in the past 4 weeks, all of them dismissed. They all sought to stop the reopening of schools.”
Maimane petitions for schools to stay closed
Maimane has fought vehemently against the reopening of schools, which he believes is happening far too early due to the high risk that children may contract and spread COVID-19.
“The minister’s statement is evidence that the reopening of schools is not primarily targeted at combating COVID-19 but at saving the academic year at any human cost or price. Our approach is that, much as the academic year must be saved, if possible, it is more important to save lives – even, if need be, at the expense of the academic year,” he wrote in his court papers.
His petition to keep schools closed has now amassed over 180 000 signatures, but it has certainly lost steam since some early enthusiasm in the claim.