GEORGE NEWS - A ruling was finally made in the George Magistrate's Court in the civil case of Heatherlands High School versus a group comprising residents and school governing body members.
The ruling, made early November, was in favour of the group of nine, finding in principle that since the school is not the landlord, they could not legally evict the residents. The full court findings are not known to the George Herald.
I said, you said
Over the last couple of months George Herald wrote about conflict between the school's principal, Clive Zinkfontein, and some of the school governing body (SGB) members, as well as issues between the school and residents living in flats on the property. The school alleged these residents, who included SGB members, were months behind on their rent money and did not follow proper procedure to re-apply. Zinkfontein gave proof to the newspaper that he had the go-ahead from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to obtain eviction orders for these residents.
The letter stated that he could put them out, but at the school's own cost. Residents then approached the newspaper, providing various documents as proof that they were not then, nor have they ever been, behind on their rent. It remained unclear whether this was just a case of misunderstandings, personal issues or if there were other motives. The residents wanted to go to court to prove that the school acted unlawfully and that each of them had the right, according to their contracts, to live on the school's property.
Charlton Brown, from Regan Brown Inc, came on record for the group on 23 August.
No comments on ruling
After the ruling George Herald approached both the school's attorney and the school principal, but neither would comment.
When Brown was approached he said in light of the previously published articles and their content, he would not comment nor address the various aspects of the ruling.
All he did say was: "The applications brought by Heatherlands High School Governing body were consolidated or combined at the Magistrate's request and argued as one matter. We raised four points in lumine, and same were upheld and the applications dismissed with costs."
He explained that in lumine refers to the hearing of a specific legal point, which takes place before the actual case can be heard. "It is a process that addresses the technical legal points, which are raised prior to getting into the merits of the case, and relates to matters of jurisdiction.
Points raised were Lack of Locus standi and Lack of citation of the true owner." (In law, standing or locus standi is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case. The law allows them to receive attorney's fees if they substantially prevail in the action.)
George Herald asked the WCED how the verdict would affect the school and the principal.
Bronagh Hammond, communications director for the department, did not present a certain outcome, but said the school will have to decide whether to appeal.
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'