fired teacher gets r500 000 backpay after 10 years

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The KwaZulu-Natal department of education will give backpay to a teacher who had been unfairly dismissed.

The teacher, who was dismissed 10 years ago and cannot be named to protect her identity, will be paid more than R500 000.

She was dismissed from the Ngangayiphi Primary School in KwaNongoma in 1998 after being absent for more than 14 consecutive days.

She had been attacked and raped at her home.

On her return she told the principal about her ordeal and submitted medical certificates but was nevertheless dismissed.

According to the teachers' code of conduct a teacher cannot be absent for more than 14 consecutive days without medical proof.

"Though I had valid proof and submitted my medical certificate I was kicked out like a dog," the teacher says.

National Teachers Union spokesman Musa Gumede says they are grateful that justice has been done and that their member will be paid for the years she was fired.

"She suffered a lot emotionally and physically and nothing can repair the damage that was done," Gumede says.

In a meeting held at the school at the weekend teachers from there and neighbouring schools raised R2 400 to help her buy clothes and other things she will need until she receives her salary.

Though the department yesterday could not reveal the exact amount she will receive, it confirmed that she will be paid for the period from 2003 to date .

After attempts to find a place at other schools failed, she opted for a job as a labourer (daka girl) at a construction company.

"I occasionally worked on road construction sites as a labourer," she says.

"It is a tough job for a woman and I hated it, but I had no choice."

An investigation conducted by the department found that her dismissal had been unfair.

Sowetan has also learnt that the department had been sending her cheques to the school between 1998 and 2002.

Provincial department of education spokesman Mbali Thusi confirms that the teacher has been reinstated and they are in the process of placing her.

He says the department will investigate what happened to the cheque payments.