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Media Release

Monday, 1 July, 2002

State to appeal finding on schools’ responsibilities

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

The Western Cape Education Department has lodged an application for leave to appeal against a judgement in the Cape Supreme Court involving a learner who was paralysed after falling off a locked gate at a school in Mitchell’s Plain 12 years ago.

Mr Justice J Ngwenya handed down a judgement on 27 May 2002 that the Minister of Education and Highlands Primary School were responsible for injuries sustained by the learner, Randall Wynkwart, who climbed over the gate on his way home from school.

The focus of the appeal will be on whether the school took reasonable steps to ensure that the learner left the school through the correct gate.

While the damages awarded are substantial, they are not our primary concern. Our primary concern is to ensure that the demands placed on our schools and our teachers for the safety of our learners are reasonable and practicable.

The judgement of the Supreme Court will be suspended until the appeal process has been completed. In the meantime, our schools will continue to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of our learners at school.

We have offered to assist the Wynkwart family in obtaining legal aid, should they require it.

The WCED lodged the application for leave to appeal on June 14, 2002. The State Attorney is waiting for the Wynkwart family’s legal advisors to respond. They will then arrange a date for a hearing with the Supreme Court.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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