South African Local Authorities Pension Fund v Mthembu (20649/2015) [2015] ZASCA 205 (3 December 2015) per Wallis JA (Mpati P, Shongwe and Tshiqi JJA and Baartman AJA concurring)

The Supreme Court of Appeal disallowed the appeal and confirmed that a student registered at Unisa did not forfeit her child’s pension as she was regarded as studying full-time and not part-time. These definitions certainly support the view that Mbali was a full-time student.  According the appellant ‘… A full-time student in terms of its rules is a student who is required by the institution to devote all or substantially all of her productive time to her studies and is thus classified by the institution as a full-time student.’

“This definition introduces elements to the concept of ‘full-time’ that are unusual.  It moves away from examining what the student does to what the institution requires of the student.  Thus the student must be ‘required’ to attend classes, although counsel rightly accepted that a student would still be a full time student if they missed all their classes and spent their time playing video games, socialising or surfing.  In other words it is enough if the institution requires them to attend classes.  They do not in fact have to do so.  The result is that the diligent Mbali, who was working hard and attending study groups at the university, is not a full-time student, but the layabout is.  That is an unattractive proposition”. [para 13].