Teachers in debt over unpaid salaries

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Durban - About 200 teachers in KwaZulu-Natal have been racking up debts and battling to put food on the table after not being paid for up to six months.

An administration bungle has been blamed for the non-payment of the teachers in Eshowe, which falls under the uThungulu district of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.

Department spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said they were aware of the problem.

“We are working on this issue and are following up on it.”

He declined to elaborate .

A Grade 12 physics teacher said he was borrowing money for food, rent, and transport to school from neighbours, relatives and colleagues.

“The department is expecting us to be in class every day with no money to even buy food,” he said on Sunday.

“My debts are more than R30 000 now. I am even afraid to come out of my house, hiding from people who want their money. I am even borrowing money from my family.”

The teacher said he was transferred from Durban to Eshowe and had been conducting winter holiday lessons for matric pupils despite not receiving his salary for the past six months.

Many of the teachers, some of whom teach matric classes, are not convinced the department is addressing the problem.

“If I don’t get paid it’s going to be difficult for me to continue to go to work. The department has been saying since March that they are working to process our salaries. But we don’t know if they are really working on it,” another frustrated teacher said.

Another teacher said a district officer had apologised for the payment delays and promised to settle all outstanding salaries by June 15.

“Up to now no salary has been received,” he said, requesting anonymity as he feared victimisation.

“We have huge debts to settle, now with interest; we have families to feed, bills to settle, rent to pay, school fees to pay and so on. We are working to produce better results, but our salary is not paid.”

He said he and other affected teachers had gone to the department’s Ulundi service centre in April to follow up on the matter but were told that the head of the department, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, had yet to approve the payments.

“A list of names was released in May showing all the names of teachers that have received their salaries but none of us received the salary in our bank accounts,” the teacher said.

Zanele Khumalo said she had only received one month’s salary.

“My colleague got a pay slip three months ago but she has not got the money in the bank. I don’t know if I will also have to wait for that long,” said Khumalo.

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