In a damning judgment concerning the non payment of legal fees totalling R577 406 to a father by a school, the Constitutional Court rejected the school’s claim that it was cash strapped .
Kenmont School, which declined to settle the debt it had with Devarajh Moodley, whose son Romano, schooled there, has been given until 10 January 2020 by the country’s apex court to settle the big debt.
The court however, ruled that it will be unconstitutional to attach assets belonging to the school and the law pertaining to this aspect of the case is not invalid.
Moodley’s legal battle with the school to stop it from isolating his son, because Romano had allegedly attacked a pupil with a scissors, started at the Durban High Court. The school then lost its appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal and has been ordered by a full bench of the Constitutional Court to pay Moodley R577 406 including accrued interest.
The court described the school’s claim that it does not have funds to pay the costs as ‘faint hearted’.
” It is this central theme that the school protested the most. That is untenable.
Despite having litigated on a large scale, the school did not take the Durban High Court into its confidence by disclosing how it had funded this litigation,” said Judge Mbuyiseli ‘Russeli’ Madlanga. According to the judgment, the alleged lack of funds sting is significant.
“The school, on occasion, engaged two counsel. That does not come cheap. That the school funded its own litigation in respect of the several litigious skirmishes between the parties does indicate that it is not as impecunious as it would want us to believe. Thus I do not accept the school’s claim of lack of funds.,” said Judge Madlanga. Turning to the disciplinary steps which the school took against Romano who matriculated there in 2010, the judge remarked that the high court ordered by consent that the school appoint a member of staff to supervise Romano’s movement and activities.
“It was to be done in a manner that would not isolate him. The disciplinary enquiry was to be concluded by a specified date. The application was then postponed indefinitely. It was never set down again,” said Judge Madlanga.
The court said instead of finalising the disciplinary hearing, the governing body, amended the school’s admission policy.” The amended policy provided for the automatic re-admission of children who were already in the school’s books. An exception was to not re-admit a child who had demonstrated “behavioural problems or conduct which . . . seriously interfered with [the] education of the other pupils [or] . . . endangered the psychological health of the other pupils or educators”. In light of the amended policy, Romano could not be enrolled at the school,” said Judge Madlanga.The judgment said Moodley then launched an urgent application in the Durban High Court to have the policy declared unlawful.
“The high court concluded that the policy was not unlawful but that Romano’s exclusion from the school was unlawful,” said Judge Madlanga.