Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has assured the parents of around 40 000 pupils who used the online application system to find places in schools for their children - and who were still waiting - that their children will be placed.
"I want to assure parents, I know people were protesting in Pretoria, people were in our district offices, people are shouting all over.
"Those that are on the online waiting list numbers, especially waiting list A and B, those I can assure you, we are going to place them.
"Please, please don't panic, we've been doing this thing for the last 17 years," Lesufi told reporters on Wednesday at the opening of Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela Primary School in Braamfischerville, Soweto.
He said that, this time last year, there had been 87 000 names on the waiting list and that the last pupil was only placed in May.
On Monday, the department said 58 000 pupils still needed to be placed. By Tuesday, the number had dropped to 40 000.
"We will sort it out when we deal with the placement."
He said the department was hoping to clear the 40 000 backlog by the end of February, so as not to disrupt the academic programme too much.
'Crisis of success'
A bigger worry for him, he said, was parents who would emerge at the end of the month, after payday, and want to have their children admitted.
"That's where we need to panic and worry because it means we must get new desks, new stationary, new textbooks, and we must appoint new teachers.
"Those are costly, unlike placements that we have to do now," he said.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura said part of the problem was the large influx of migrant pupils who came from other provinces to study.
"We have a crisis of success. The more we improve educational outcomes, the more we get better results, we have a new problem. We have a problem of migrant learners, not only workers. And it is a crisis of success borne out of the kind of schools we are rolling out.
"I know in Limpopo, where I come from, there are parents who are bringing their children here because they want the technology in the classrooms. They want the kinds of schools like the Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela Primary School."
Despite this, Makhura also assured parents of pupils who had applied through the online system that they would be placed.
"Some parents complain that there are 40 000 who are yet to be placed, but I want to assure Gauteng: all those learners who are not placed will be placed."
Makhura's office has given the department an additional R200-million as a contingency plan to address the potential shortage of staff.