UJ’s ceded lease repudiated agreement
The Constitutional Court has come to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) rescue, says a report in The Herald. It ruled in the institution’s favour in a case involving land UJ leased to a school of theology 25 years ago.
The property – a seven-minute walk from the university’s Kingsway Campus – is seen by UJ as a critical resource.
UJ’s predecessor, Rand Afrikaans University, leased the land to the Auckland Park Theological Seminary (ATS) in 1996 for 30 years to build its theological college.
But ATS ceded its rights under the lease agreement to Wamjay, a private company, in March 2011.
Neither ATS nor Wamjay notified UJ of this.
The university became aware of the deal a year later, cancelled the lease agreement and sought to evict ATS and Wamjay.
In March 2017, the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) granted an order for the eviction of the two. However, ATS and Wamjay approached the SCA, which upheld their application in March 2021.
The university then argued before the Constitutional Court that it could never have been intended by UJ and ATS, when concluding the lease, that the land could go to an entity not involved in higher learning.
In a unanimous judgment, the Constitutional Court upheld UJ’s appeal, saying in ceding the rights to Wamjay, ATS repudiated its agreement with the university.
The court said this repudiation was of a sufficiently serious manner – preventing the entire purpose of the lease from continuing – to justify UJ’s subsequent cancellation of the agreement.
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