The Constitutional Court will next month hear a matter involving the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Auckland Park Theological Seminary (ATS) over buildings the university wants to use to house students.
ATS is an entity that provides theological training to students who seek careers as pastors of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. It was previously known as the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa Theological College.
The relationship between the two institutions began in the early 90s. The cooperation agreement provided that students registered for theological degrees would be taught some courses by the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) and other courses by ATS.
In December 1996, the two entities signed a long-term lease agreement. RAU leased some of its premises to ATS for the purpose of enabling the college to establish a theological campus on the premises.
UJ, in its founding affidavit seen by Sunday World, argues that ATS did not establish a theological college on the leased premises. Instead, ATS ceded its rights under the lease agreement to a private entity called Wamjay by means of a written cession dated March 28 2011.
UJ then cancelled the lease when it found out the agreement between ATS and Wamjay. The matter then ended in the high court, which ruled in favour of UJ. ATS appealed successfully to the Supreme Court of Appeal, a decision that UJ now seeks to overturn.
“The leased premises are currently vacant,” read the UJ papers. There is no other available land in the vicinity of the Kingsway campus that allows for expansion to meet the growing demands for student accommodation.
“The leased premises are therefore seen as a critical resource. UJ intends to use the leased premises for much-needed student accommodation.”
In his response Willem Hattingh, the principal of ATS, said UJ’s grounds to appeal were selfish.
“Furthermore, the leased premises do not remain dormant and useless. The truth of the matter is that UJ has now realised the value of the leased premises, with many property developers seeking to acquire such property for student housing, and UJ now seeks to acquire occupation of the leased premises for its own requirements.
“The reliance on the needs of poor students by UJ is contrived and self-serving.” The matter will be heard on November 9.