Two South African diplomats based in New York City have gone to court to force the government to pay their kids’ private school fees, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
Raymond Nyembe and Mmalebone Mmekoe – part of SA’s UN mission – filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria after the Department of International Relations recently cut its financial support for school fees in a bid to save money.
The court papers reveal that “34 children of 17 officials in New York City cost South African taxpayers just over $1 million (±R16 million) a year”.
Nyembe said the “sudden cuts” were done without consulting the diplomats, and were “not only unfair, but contrary to the already existing budget of the mission”.
“We have been transferred to this mission with the knowledge that we have children and such children should have a right to basic education,” he said, adding that his kids had to be removed from school as he could not afford the fees.
According to the report, the diplomats refuse to send their children to free public schools.
Nyembe said the schools were “not well-equipped to accommodate children from other countries” and “gangs, drugs, and prostitution” were rife.
The department’s chief financial officer Caiphus Ramashau said it was a mistake “from the beginning to pay school fees for diplomats in English-speaking countries”.
“There is nothing preventing an official from sending her child to a private school if she is willing to pay for such school,” he said.
The full report is in the Sunday Times – 31 January 2016.