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PRIVATE SCHOOL: The Kinghorn family feels discriminated against after Karsveld Academy, a school in Grootfontein, took legal action over unpaid school fees. Photo contributed
PRIVATE SCHOOL: The Kinghorn family feels discriminated against after Karsveld Academy, a school in Grootfontein, took legal action over unpaid school fees. Photo contributed

Family’s essentials auctioned over school debt

Nikanor Nangolo
A Grootfontein family has been left distraught after mounting school debt of over N$30 000 led to the auctioning of their household items and the expulsion of their children from a local private school.

The auction, which took place recently, resulted in the loss of three double beds, a fridge, complete lounge set, TV, gas stove, gas bottle, microwave, bar fridge and the laptop the children were using for their online classes.

The Kinghorn family feels discriminated against after Karsveld Academy took legal action over unpaid school fees. Despite efforts to negotiate a payment plan, the school remained firm, leading to the children's expulsion and the subsequent auction of the family's belongings.

The family said they have been associated with Karsveld since its inception in 2021. Michael Kinghorn, currently in grade nine, has been a learner at the school – which was previously known as Agri College – since its inception, while Andrew Kinghorn, who was in grade R, had just started.

Last year, the family's construction business was hit hard by the repo rate increases, leading to financial difficulties that caused delays in school fee payments.

"Our business has struggled. Many of our clients had to cut back, and as a result, our income dropped dramatically. We couldn't pay the school fees on time,” father Muremi Kinghorn said.

“In November last year, the school kicked out our grade R child and our grade eight child during their examinations. We wrote an email to the school explaining to them why the payment was delayed,” he recalled.

“The school responded positively, saying that [Michael] could return to continue with his examination [but] that [Andrew] should not return to school, and we respected their decision.”

Legal action

Karsveld went on to pursue legal action against the family, holding onto the children's report cards and demanding payment in full. “The initial outstanding amount stood at N$32 000, including interest. However, the messenger of the court wrote N$38 000 on the warrant of execution. On the day of the auction, the amount stood at N$48 000, which we did not understand. Prior to the auction, we had paid the school N$12 000, which brought the amount to N$36 000. We are still waiting on feedback from the auction to determine how much we still owe,” Muremi said.

“It's quite painful. We took a huge overdraft just to pay these guys and they rejected us. From the overdraft, we initially offered to pay the school N$20 000, but they refused, remaining firm on wanting the full amount. We transferred N$12 000 into their account since they did not want to accept our money, and the rest went to the lawyer we hired. Despite efforts to work out a payment plan, the school took all our household items and now the kids are even sleeping on the floor,” he said.

“Now, while we struggle to pay off the school debt, which keeps going up because of interest, we also need to buy new household items. We’ll basically owe the school forever. And on top of that, we still need to repay the money we received from the bank overdraft,” the distraught father added.

Broken promises

The school’s executive management committee chairperson Johan Spangenberg refuted allegations of discrimination, saying everyone is treated the same at the school.

“Every parent is treated equally at our school, no matter the race. We never discriminated against him. As a matter of fact, we tried to help him by allowing his older son to write an examination last year despite his account being in arrears,” Spangenberg said.

“We need the funds and we explained to them why we need the funds. But unfortunately, when I looked through their records, there were a lot of letters addressed to [Muremi]. He promised the school that he would pay, but then he didn't fulfill his promise,” he said.

“His payment lagged behind, occasionally paying half one month and falling into arrears again. Despite negotiations and promises to pay within a specified time frame, he consistently failed to fulfil his commitments. We heavily depend on these funds to compensate our staff.”

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Namibian Sun 2024-05-27

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Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 354.79/OZ UP +0.75% | Copper US$ 4.80/lb UP +1.27% | Zinc US$ 3 077.30/T UP 0.19% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 83.24/BBP UP +1.11% | Platinum US$ 1 054.13/OZ UP +2.32%