School denies fee exemption to woman because she’s an asylum seeker

Lawyer and provincial department say school is legally wrong

Parow West Primary School has denied Rwandan asylum seeker, Beatrice Ingabire (37), fees exemption for her grade three child even though she qualifies.

In December 2014 the school sent a debt collector to take her belongings because she failed to pay her school fees debt of R12,000, accumulated by her other two children. “When she got inside my house she was shocked with my living conditions. She wept bitterly and asked why the school was doing this,” said Ingabire. She says the debt collector wrote on her paper that the woman is very poor. She asked Ingabire to pay R100 each month. But she could only do so for two months.

“I have nothing; I am a single sick woman staying in a small room with four children,” she says. She receives some money monthly from the Wynberg Refugee Centre and handouts from her church. “I am about to be thrown out of the room because I failed to pay rent for two consecutive months,” said Ingabire. Despite having a chronic condition that makes it very hard for her to work, she does occasionally earn income by doing cleaning jobs.