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Teachers on suspension continue to get full pay

By Reports by Tebogo Monama - | 2012-03-09 07:12:18.0

EVERY month, the Gauteng department of education spends on average R1.5-million to pay suspended teachers on suspension.

 Annually, it the department spends about R20-billion on teachers' salaries.

Of the 60,000 educators in the province, 101 teachers and 24 principals and vice-principals are currently on suspension.

Of these, 29 teachers and 19 principals were suspended last year. In the past year, 21 teachers and one principal were fired after disciplinary hearings.

Embattled Meadowlands Secondary School principal Moss Senye is Gauteng's longest suspended employee. He was suspended inFebruary 2011.

Senye and teacher Fancy Phehle were suspended after their arrest for allegedly assaulting a 17-year-old pupil. They allegedly hit and kicked the pupil for being "disruptive" in class.

Department spokesman Charles Phahlane says it takes between nine months to a year to complete a case.

"It depends on the complexity of the case and the availability of witnesses."

Educators are suspended for offences such as assault, financial mismanagement and disgraceful conduct.

Phahlane said: "It takes an average of 90 days to finalise a case from the point that a charge sheet is served to the outcome of a finding. Legally, we are bound to presume a person innocent and therefore they would be suspended on full pay.

"A suspension is effected when a person could interfere with witnesses or to protect learners who might be in danger, based on the allegations made."

In February, at least four teachers and principals were suspended. The principal of Cosmo City Primary School was suspended for making pupils strip for wearing the wrong uniform. The principal at Fons Luminis Secondary School in Diepkloof, Soweto, was suspended after parents complained that he was facing charges of fraud.

Phahlane said Senye's disciplinary hearing was ongoing.

A teacher was blacklisted last year by the South African Council of Educators and 19 others are under review. Last year, 27 teachers were dismissed for having sexual relations with pupils.

Last week, MEC for education Barbara Creecy said: "The department has no mercy on people who do that. It's a total breach of trust between an adult and a child, and a total abuse of power."

- This article was first published in the newspaper on 6 March 2012