EC education department assets to be attached for salaries

The Eastern Cape High Court sheriff may attach moveable assets from the Eastern Cape education department after it failed to pay teacher salaries. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Eastern Cape High Court sheriff may attach moveable assets from the Eastern Cape education department after it failed to pay teacher salaries. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Eastern Cape's education minister might soon be forced to use public transport to get to work after lawyers got a writ of attachment asking the Eastern Cape High Court to take the state’s assets in lieu of unpaid teacher salaries.

The assets "should include all motor vehicles, including that of the provinical minister for education", the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) said on Tuesday.

The centre, on behalf of the Centre for Child Law and 17 schools obtained a court order on June 6 forcing the department to pay salaries of unpaid teachers by June 30. Knowing that the department might not comply with the order, the LRC asked for a clause to be included, which allowed the LRC to apply to attach the state's assets to cover the debt.

The writ of attachment directs the sheriff to attach movable goods to the value of over R619 000 belonging to "the minister of basic education, the director general … the minister of the Eastern Cape education department, and the head of department".

The centre’s regional director Sarah Sephton said the sheriff will now do a "blanket attachment but is not allowed to actually remove any assets". According to the state liability act, she said, the state still has 30 days to pay up or give up its assets.

Sephton said the department’s "blatant refusal to abide by court orders which they consent to with full knowledge of their obligations is a disgrace.
The minister, the director general, the provincial minister and the head of department are contemptuous of court processes and they should be censured."

The department was not available for comment at the time of publishing.

Victoria John

Victoria John

Victoria studied journalism, specialising in photojournalism, at Rhodes University from 2004 to 2007. After traveling around the US and a brief stint in the UK she did a year's internship at The Independent on Saturday in Durban. She then worked as a reporter for the South African Press Association for a year before joining the Mail & Guardian as an education reporter in August 2011. Read more from Victoria John

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