Durban - The
suspended governing body of a troubled Chesterville school has been ordered to resume its duties - and was told by the Durban High Court that it had a responsibility to ensure the smooth and peaceful integration of 12 teachers and an administration clerk.
The 13 had been prevented from entering Umkhumbane Secondary School by parents, pupils and other teachers, des-pite a court order that they should return.
The school’s governing body, its principal and the National Teachers’ Union (Natu) – cited as an interested party only – filed an urgent application last week against Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, head of the education department Nkosinathi Sishi, and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).
They had been calling for their suspensions to be lifted, for the department to employ 12 new teachers and to restrain Sadtu members from entering the school without consent.
On Friday, acting Judge John Pammenter granted an order that the school governing body’s functions be reinstated. But he refused an order to employ 12 new teachers, saying there were no grounds to do so.
There was no finding against Sadtu, as it had made an undertaking that its members would behave lawfully.
On Friday, advocate Clayton Edy, representing the applicants, told the court the suspended principal, Ntokozo Ngobese, no longer sought an order to lift his suspension.
His suspension remains.
Last month, the Durban High Court granted an order to reinstate the 13, who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
A department of education investigation had found no evidence to implicate the teachers.
However, since the court order, the 13 have been chased from the school by parents, pupils and other teachers.
Last week, the applicants filed an urgent application which was heard on Friday.
According to Ngobese’s affidavit, the school had been forced to operate with too few teachers.
He said when the suspended teachers had returned to the school, the pupils had violently turned on them and the police had to be called.
Following the incident, Ngobese said he was presented with a letter of suspension and was not allowed to defend himself. But he had returned to the school, despite the deputy principal being appointed as acting principal.
In response, Bhekizenzo Ntuli, the department’s uMlazi district director, said it was not imperative the suspensions be lifted as pupils were writing exams and the school was functioning smoothly without principal and governing body.
Ntuli said Ngobese had also launched proceedings in the education labour relations council last month challenging his suspension, but had now gone to the high court.
On Sunday, the department spokesman, Muzi Mahlambi, said the department’s management was due to meet today to discuss the judgment.
“As a government department, we always respect the court rulings. If we had a different view, we would take it to the same institution,” he said.