Mpumalanga warns teachers over misconduct

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mbombela – Employees, who get the provincial government sued, are at risk of losing their pensions should government lose the court case, the Mpumalanga Department of Education said on Monday.

This came after Siphamandla Choma, 14, a grade five learner at Manyano Primary School in Mhluzi, Middleburg, was allegedly assaulted by his principal last year after he was accused of stealing R150. 

The department is currently faced with a R25 million lawsuit after the learner’s family approached the courts. Siphamandla became paralyzed after the incident and is now wheelchair bound. 

Speaking to the media on Monday, Education HOD Mahlasedi Mhlabane, said the department is going to defend the lawsuit.

She said, however, that should the provincial department lose the case, it would recoup some of the money from the principal's pension. 

The principal, who cannot be named, was suspended by the department pending an investigation into the incident.  

"Yes we are facing a R25 million lawsuit from the family of the learner. We will as the department defend ourselves … If we are found to be wrong, we will see how we settle this money.

“Let it be known that the department does not have such money so we will also recoup some of the money from the principal's pension.

"Actually we have sent our employees letters that in an event that the department is being sued as a result of their misconduct, such money will be…taken from their pension after we have done investigations internally," said Mhlabane. 

Department offers to rehabilitate the paralyzed learner

Mpumalanga Education MEC Reginah Mhaule said the department is currently trying to find a specialised physical rehabilitation centre for Siphamandla to assist him with his condition.

"The boy's situation is bad. When I visited him, I found out that he has been transferred from Emalahleni general hospital to Middelburg hospital.

“We are also looking to send him to some hospitals that are good [for patients with] his condition.”

Mhaule, who was not informed about the assault and Siphamandla’s injuries until the department was served with court papers, said a decision was taken to institute disciplinary processes against the principal.

Teacher suspended for having romantic affair with a learner

The MEC, meanwhile, said a teacher at Siboyiye Secondary school in the Bohlabelo region in Bushbuckridge has been suspended for allegedly having a romantic relationship with a learner.

She said the department has suspended the teacher following information that he was dating a 15-year-old learner from the same school. 

"Last week we received disturbing news that a teacher at Siboyiye secondary school is alleged to have entered into a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old learner from the same school. The department commends the reporting of the matter by the local traditional authorities and the community development workers. 

"The department has since suspended the teacher pending investigations. It must also be known that Act 76 of 1998, section 17 states that an educator must face dismissal if found guilty on these charges, which includes sexual assault on a learner or employee and sexual relations with a learner, so we await the outcome of the investigation as we speak," said Mhaule. 

Service delivery protests

Mhaule further condemned service delivery protests that have hindered teaching and learning in the Bushbuckridge area. 

"We are deeply concerned that in Bushbuckridge local municipality schooling was affected in Marite, Shatale, Lehukwe, Arthrseat and Dwarsloop in the Mashishing circuit [since January], because communities wanted services.

“This happens regardless of the clarion call to communities to not affect teaching and learning if there are service delivery protests.

“[To] this end, we are calling for our learners to try catch up from our radio lessons on the SABC radio stations Ligwalagwala FM and Ikwekwezi FM and also the 11 community radio stations in the province," said Mhaule. – SAnews.gov.za-TLM

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