Jacobus du Plessis NO & Others v MEC for Education, Western Cape and Others
Grootkraal Primary was first threatened in 2011, when the new owners of the land upon which it stood announced their intention to develop game reserve. The Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) decided to close Grootkraal and relocate the learners to Voorbedag, a school 18 kilometres away. The Western Cape High Court granted an interdict in June 2011, preventing the school from being closed and ordering the WCED and the property owner to engage over the issue. After six months the landowners initiated eviction procedures.
EE, represented by the EELC, then began its involvement as amicus curiae (friend of the court), highlighting historical injustices faced by farm schools in general and arguing that provincial MECs should consider the possibility of expropriating the land. They also brought attention to s58 of the South African Schools Act, which authorises MECs to expropriate land if it is overwhelmingly in the public interest.
More than a year later, a meeting was held between the EELC, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the landowners and the school. The landowners suggested a long lease agreement, and the school community announced their intention to pursue a claim for land ownership. No agreement was therefore reached. However, the school has been protected from eviction since 2011.