Disbelief as suspended principal returnsComment on this story
Johannesburg - It’s been six months since Senaoane Secondary School principal Lebo Mashuga was charged for alleged misconduct and the misuse of funds at the Soweto school.
He was transferred to the district office pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, which was scheduled to start in April, a month after he was charged.
He has not gone through the disciplinary hearing and, on Monday, staff and school governing body (SGB) members were told he would be returning to the school on Tuesday.
Staffers at the school who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity as they are not allowed to speak to the media, said they were puzzled by the announcement of Mashuga’s return to the school.
“He is accused of misusing the school’s funds… The school only received this year’s textbooks a month ago, after the department intervened because the R1 million allocated for books disappeared. How can you get someone who misused the school’s money to come back and run the school?” one staff member asked.
Another said they were worried that Mashuga could intimidate or try to influence witnesses who may be requested to testify at his disciplinary hearing.
Mashuga was not available on his phone on Monday, but had declined on previous occasions to comment on the allegations against him.
In a letter delivered to the Gauteng Department of Education’s head of department, Boy Ngobeni on Monday, “concerned SBG members” said: “Our greatest fear is that he will tamper with evidence at the school and will intimidate possible witnesses.”
“It’s an open secret that he has started getting rid of all members of staff who are fighting corruption at the school by fabricating stories about them,” the SGB members wrote.
Mashuga is one of nine people who were fingered for wrongdoing after a forensic audit was conducted at the school.
The audit was completed last year after allegations of financial mismanagement were levelled against the school’s management including some SGB members.
The department charged Mashuga in March and said he would appear before a disciplinary committee in April.
A staffer privy to the proceedings said the hearing had been delayed continuously and Mashuga was yet to appear before the committee.
The new dates set for disciplinary hearing were next Wednesday and Thursday.
Gauteng Department of Education’s spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane could not say what had led to the delays.
She said the department decided that Mashuga should return to the school because the witnesses identified in his matter were not based at the school as they were SGB members.
“It is on this basis that we believe that his presence at the school will not cause any interference in this case.
“Any allegations of intimidation by anyone should be brought to the department,” Sekhonyane said.
“With regard to the other eight educators (that the forensic audit said were also guilty of wrongdoing), there was no proof that they had conducted remunerative work in the public service and were therefore not charged,” Sekhonyane added.