Michelle Saffer v HOD, Western Cape Education Department and Five Others

In 2011, Michelle Saffer’s fee exemption application for her daughter was refused as the school requested financial statements from Ms Saffer’s former husband as well. The school’s view was that Ms Saffer and her ex-husband are a ‘family unit’ and when applying for financial assistance the ‘annual gross combined income’ of both biological parents have to be taken into account. However, because of a difficult history, Ms Saffer was not in a position to secure assistance from her ex-husband.

In 2013, the school once again denied Ms Saffer’s application for an exemption. After correspondence failed to resolve the issue, the EELC filed an application in the Western Cape High Court. The EELC is asking the court to declare that the State had failed in its constitutional and statutory obligations to ensure that fee exemption applications in the Western Cape were dealt with in a lawful manner, and a structural interdict to ensure appropriate steps to address this. The matter will be heard by the court on 25 and 26 May 2016.