A judge has shot down a company’s insistence that a family with a boy (16) in matric should be evicted from its farm now before the end of the school year.

Land Claims Court Acting Judge Muzi Ncube has ruled that evicting Thabang Molatedze’s family from Farm Rietfontein, in Pretoria East – before December as Vindex (Pty) Ltd demanded – would violate a right to basic education.

The Star reports Thabang’s parents approached the court to vary an earlier court order that gave them until 1 May to vacate the farm. That earlier order, delivered in March, was a result of an out-of-court settlement between lawyers for the farm evictees and Vindex.

Attorney Masilo Benny Fisha, acting for Thabang’s parents, brought it to the attention of Ulrich Roux and Associates, Vindex’s lawyers, in March that there was a problem with the order. The problem was that the court order did not cater for Thabang, a minor child still in school.

Later in March, the attorneys informed Fisha that Vindex did not accede to the request for the extension of the date of eviction. The matter ended up going to the Land Claims Court. Vindex opposed it.

Vindex cited the legal doctrine that dictated that a court cannot revisit or alter cases that have been litigated to finality.

Counsel for Thabang’s parents submitted that the earlier order, if left unamended, infringed a minor’s right to basic education and also the section of the Constitution that safeguarded a child’s best interests.

Ncube said Vindex’s lawyers were correct about the doctrine that barred revisiting cases litigated to finality.

‘This is a general rule,’ he said. ‘However, in every general rule there is an exception. In our constitutional democracy, the main consideration will be the interest of justice. The Land Claims Court is a court of justice and equity. It may reconsider its order if it is just and equitable to do so,’ Ncube said.

According to the report in The Star, he added: ‘Section 28(2) of the Constitution provides that a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child. Therefore, Thabang’s schooling is of paramount importance in this matter. Should he be evicted from the farm with his parents at this stage, his education will be disrupted. In terms of section 29(1)(a) of the Constitution, Thabang has a right to basic education.’

Ncube granted the variation of the March order, meaning Vindex was prohibited from evicting Thabang’s family until 17 December.

Full report in The Star

Judgment