Head of Department, Department of Education Free State Province v Welkom High School and Another

Case No. Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author Vote
CCT 103/12 Free State High Court, 12 May 2011
SCA, 28 Sep. 2012
 5 Mar. 2013  10 July 2013 Khampepe J.  5-3

By Duncan Wild on 22 July 2013

In this case the Constitutional Court had to determine whether the Department of Education may order the principal of a public school to readmit learners to that school in circumstances where the school’s governing body has adopted a policy which provides for the mandatory exclusion of the learners.

The case involved two schools, Welkom High School and Harmony High School (“the Schools“), that had adopted policies dealing with learner pregnancies.  In essence, both policies allowed the school to exclude a learner who became pregnant from the school for a period of time. In 2010, a learner was excluded from each of the Schools under these policies and the learners complained to the provincial Department of Education. Soon thereafter, the  Head of Department, Department of Education Free State Province (“HOD“) wrote to each of the Schools directing that the learners be re-admitted.

Each school then brought an application to court that were subsequently consolidated into one matter, and the High Court granted an order declaring the HOD had no authority to compel a school principle from acting in a manner contrary to the policy adopted by the school governing body; declared the exclusion of the learners valid in law; and interdicted the HOD from taking steps to undermine the schools decisions.  Continue reading

Rademan v Moqhaka Municipality and Others

Case No.
Lower Court Judgments Hearing Date Judgment Date Majority Author
CCT 41/12
Free State High Court, 2 Sep. 2010
SCA, 1 Dec. 2011
5 Feb. 2013
26 Apr. 2013 Zondo J. Unanimous

Ms Olga Rademan lives within the Moqhaka Municipality (“the Municipality“), and refused to pay taxes and levies on her property.   She is a member of the Moqhaka Rate Payers’ and Residents’ Association to which she pays the amount due in respect of property rates. She had however paid the Municipality what was due for services, including electricity.  On 17 August 2009, Ms Rademan’s electricty supply was cut off by the municipality. 

Ms Rademan brought an urgent application before the Kroonstaad magistrate’s court for the restoration of her electricity supply and this was granted. The Municipality appealed to the High Court, and the High Court overturned the Magistrate’s decision finding that the Municipality was within its rights to disconnect Ms Rademan’s electricity. The Supreme Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court, and Ms Rademan appealed to the Constitutional Court. 

Justice Zondo, writing for the Court, held that the legislative framework applicable to the dispute at hand did allow the Municipality to amalgamate the different accounts for services rendered (like water, electricity, waste management) into one consolidated account.  The effect of this debt consolidation is that the non-payment of any portion of the account causes the ratepayer to be in arrears on the entire consolidated debt and the Municipality is resultantly entitled to reduce or withhold the delivery of services such as electricity.  In essence, the Constitutional Court held that a ratepayer cannot choose which of the municipal service they pay.  Accordingly, the Constiutional Court found that Ms Rademan’s account was in arrears, and that the Municipality was entitled to discontinue the supply of electricity to her household. Continue reading