A BAN on all school outings – including matric dances, sporting events and excursions – in KwaZulu-Natal is illegal, and the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) therefore yesterday called on its members to set aside KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Senzo Mchunu's ban and go ahead with planned out-of-school events.
"The ban is unlawful and irregular. Members of the legislature and executive in every sphere are constrained by the principle that they may exercise no power and perform no function beyond that conferred upon them by law. There is no legal prescript for the MEC to cancel all outings," the federation's Paul Colditz said.
He said the federation would step in and consider legal action if the department pushed the ban. "We will advise our members to go ahead with whatever is planned."
Mchunu suspended all school outings until the end of the year on Sunday at the funeral of 10 pupils, all under 13, of Okhombe Primary School in Bergville.
The pupils were returning from a sports event on Saturday night when the taxi they were travelling in crashed into a cow before plunging into a river. Twenty-seven school pupils have been killed on the province's roads in less than a month.
Colditz yesterday called for Mchunu to retract the announcement.
"We are hoping that the MEC's announcement of the ban was an emotional reaction which he did not give much thought to or get advice on," he said.
"It is very tragic that we have lost lives and we are crying for every child but the fact is that these deaths are not caused by children going on school outings but are directly related to traffic offences, poor roads and animals on the road."
The DA yesterday said the ban was not practically possible and was illegal. The party's spokesman Tom Stokes said the proposed ban would not only have a huge financial impact on business, but also disrupt school activities.
"Thousands of sports fixtures and cultural events take place every weekend across the province. For many schools these programmes form an integral part of their curriculum and would have incurred the schools costs already."
However, department spokesman Sihle Mlotshwa said the ban would not be lifted.
"This situation is crucial because we have lost 27 pupils all under 16 in less than a month ... While the MEC discusses other strategies to stop these senseless deaths, the ban will stay in place," he said.
He said that matric dances were not altogether banned.
"We can't ban matric dances because it motivates children. We are saying that matric dances must be within walking distance of the school.
"Matric dances at resorts or other venues away from the school cannot take place without permission from the head of department," he said. "We are trying to protect the children."
The KwaZulu-Natal Schools' Rugby Association chairman Noel Ingle said the ban would affect all sport. "The rugby season is over but we still have water polo, cricket and other fixtures planned.
"We have not yet seen the directive from the department so we cannot say what we are really going to do. We will decide when we see it," he said.