Parents threaten to burn down Overvaal

Learners who want to be admitted at Hoërskool Overvaal came to court on Thursday wearing uniform from their junior school. They said they wanted to attend Overvaal because it’s within walking proximity. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

The parents of English learners have reacted angrily to a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria, setting aside the forced admission of 55 English learners to the Afrikaans Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging and threatened to burn down the school.
Judge Bill Prinsloo yesterday ruled that a December 5 directive to the school by the Sedibeng East Education district director that they must on Wednesday admit an additional 55 English learners and become a double medium school on short notice had been unlawful.
He not only set aside the directive as unlawful but found that the district director, Criselda Makhubela, was clearly biased and had attempted to defeat the ends of justice by in effect bullying the principals of two neighboring English school to recant their evidence under oath that their schools has space for the extra pupils.
Makhubela referred in her affidavit to Afrikaans as a separatist language that caused sorrow and tears. The judge said it was difficult to see how one could expect her to be unbiased towards the school in light of those sentiments.
He granted a punitive costs order against the Head of the Gauteng Education department and the district director.
The Judge found that according to objective evidence, Overvaal was already full by the time they were ordered to accept the additional learners and that the neighboring English Phoenix and General Smuts High Schools in fact had space to accommodate those learners.
He said the district director could not just ignore and ride roughshod over the school’s language policy by simply dictating that the school must become a double medium school overnight and in circumstances where there was no space for the extra learners.
Some Afrikaans parents applauded after the ruling, but the parents of students who hoped to end Overvaal’s days as an Afrikaans medium school reacted angrily.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi also referred to the school as racists who were opposed to transformation and who were trying to deprive the majority of learners of their constitutional right to education.
However, he called for calm and asked parents not to take the law into their own hands. He said the school’s victory would be short lived, as they would definitely appeal the ruling and intended taking the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Ilse de Lange/The Citizen