Legality of extending WCED HOD Brian Schreuder's contract a concern
Cape Town - The head the Public Service Commission (PSC) in the province has raised concerns about the legality of the extension of the contract of the head of the education department, Brian Schreuder, which could have a bearing on the disciplinary hearing of Heathfield High School principal, Wesley Neumann.
Neumann earlier approached the Labour Court, citing the legality of the disciplinary process because Schreuder, who has reached retirement age was not legally entitled to bring the disciplinary charges.
On Wednesday, while briefing the standing committee on the premier and constitutional matters about grievances dealt with by the PSC, Commissioner Leon Goosen said: “The education standing committee entertained a report drafted by the PSC without inviting the PSC to that meeting to speak about the report.”
Goosen said: “As a result, there were challenges, because while I was at pains to ensure that my officials sent the report to the legislature, including all annexures which reflect my interactions with the premier, those annexures were not included when it was circulated to members.
“The challenge is, if one deals with a report in that manner it can have the unintended consequences of undermining the work of a constitutional body. At this stage I believe the committee is waiting for a legal opinion from a legal adviser, but outside of the legislature a teacher being disciplined has now raised this report in court papers.”
Neumann’s advocate Vernon Seymour said: “While the comments have no necessarily legally binding effect, they raise a red flag and beg the question: if Schreuder’s appointment is illegal, then what power does he have to do anything?”
“We’re in the Labour Court on Tuesday arguing our case and the comments can only affect our case if it is proved that Schreuder occupies his post illegally,” said Seymour.
Provincial education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “In the view of the department, the recent comments by Mr Goosen of the PSC pertaining to his alleged concerns over the process that was followed by the standing committee in respect of one of his reports, in no way affects the litigation process which Mr Neumann has initiated seeking to, inter alia, interdict his disciplinary process from commencing.”
The matter began when an anonymous request was sent to the PSC in February to answer questions around the legality of the head of the department’s (HOD) contract extension. The PSC found that the advice given to the Western Cape government, by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), was wrong and therefore the appointment was irregular.
Premier Alan Winde’s spokesperson Bianca Capazorio said: “Premier Winde still maintains his view that the Western Cape government acted on the advice it received from the DPSA when appointing HOD Schreuder and the fact remains that the PSC declared their draft report final without consulting the DPSA on the matter. Mr Goosen’s main concerns seem to be the fact that he was not able to be present at the committee meeting and we therefore suggest he direct these concerns to the committee chairperson.”
ANC provincial education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said: “I was the one who brought numerous motions, as well as a formal letter, to the committee chairperson urging that they invite not only the premier, but also the commissioner to state the case.”
“To our dismay, only the premier was called and what then happened was that DA members went into defence mode failing to exercise their oversight. Most certainly this thing has deep potential to impact on the Wesley Neumann disciplinary hearing and the DA members of the committee know it full well.”
Riyaad Najaar of the Progressive Principals Association (PPA) said: “We at the PPA encourage respect for the law. If the courts decide that Mr Schreuder’s appointment is irregular, then the consequences could impact on his position as the HOD.”