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Hundreds of teachers in KwaZulu-Natal are to face the music for trading with the state despite not having permission to do so from their employer – the KZN Department of Education.
The head of the department in the province, Nkosinathi Sishi, told the legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday that the department was ready to haul about 783 teachers before disciplinary hearings.
The disciplinary processes are due to start next week and be completed next month.
While teachers are not barred from trading or doing additional remunerative work with the government, they are expected to seek permission for this first.
The auditor-general revealed last year that there were thousands of teachers in the province who were doing remunerative work with either the Department of Education or other departments in KZN, this was despite them not having the authority to do so.
Sishi said this was a serious transgression of the department’s policy.
He said ideally, the department did not want teachers to be involved in other businesses that had the potential to distract them from the primary task of teaching.
He told the committee all the teachers implicated had been contacted by the department and given a chance to make representations on why action should not be taken against them.
“The point here is that clear evidence exists to indicate that the department approached this matter in a professional manner and we have afforded the teachers the opportunity to respond to our letters.
“We have written to them individually and also followed up with reminders,” he said.
The department had written to 1 182 teachers last year asking them to give reasons why they felt it should not take action against them.
Only 399 responses were received from those teachers.
In total, the department received over 2 000 responses and the legal advice it got was that it should not proceed with charging those who had already provided responses because “as employees they are regarded as separate entities from their companies”.
But the legal advice gave the department a green light when it came to prosecuting those who had not responded to its communiqué.
The deadline for these submissions from the implicated parties was last December.
Further to the final warning on January 15 the department began analysing all the letters received from those who had responded.
Belinda Scott, chairman of the finance portfolio committee, said the matter of teachers doing remunerative work was a problem as in some instances it meant their duties as teachers were being neglected.
“... how can you possibly fulfill your job as a teacher while doing something else?” she asked.