“It is untrue that schools have not received textbooks,” spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said in a statement.
More than 6.5 million textbooks had been delivered in 2014 and an additional 306,000 had been ordered to address shortages.
“We acknowledge that there are schools that have reported shortages in February and orders have been made and delivered.”
Mhlanga said most of the 18,000 books alleged to be short were the textbooks the schools were supposed to get back from pupils at the end of the year.
“The evidence at our disposal has revealed that the shortages reported are not even books that are in the catalogue. It is unusual to have shortages once deliveries have been made on appropriately reported shortages of textbooks.”
Civil rights groups were expected take the Limpopo education department to the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday for allegedly failing to deliver textbooks. The move was spearheaded by 23 schools that said between them they still needed 18,000 books.
Mhlanga said most of the schools involved had failed to check or verify the deliveries of textbooks against the orders placed.
“They only did so after the advent of the 2014 school year.”
He said the department had taken steps to ensure that books were delivered on time and that any reported shortages were addressed.
In 2012 the department failed to deliver books to Limpopo schools until June.