Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann
Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann

Heathfield principal in labour court bid to declare employment of WCED HOD unlawful

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Oct 28, 2020

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Cape Town - Supporters of Heathfield High School principal Wesley Neumann are hoping that the Labour Court will rule against the controversial employment extension of the provincial Education Head of Department (HOD), Brian Schreuder.

They argue that while that hearing is under way and a ruling has not been taken on Schreuder’s contract, then disciplinary charges brought against Neumann by Schreuder are null and void.

Schreuder brought multiple charges against Neumann after he, earlier this year, refused to reopen the school amid the Covid-19 infection peak, and spoke about it out in public.

Neumann approached the courts and filed an application to interdict his disciplinary hearing, which was being argued on Tuesday.

More than 100 people including parents, pupils, union representatives and local organisations attended the live-streaming of the case in the school hall.

Neumann’s lawyers argued that Schreuder’s contract had been extended for an additional two years, allegedly without due process being followed and the court should rule on that.

Cosatu provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn said: “Judging by the arguments we listened to, we are quite confident that Mr Neumann will be the ultimate winner. It was clear that the defence of the responders are not really clued up with the developments of our arguments. We can also see that the Education Department is trying to defend the appointment of Mr Schreuder.

“The Public Service Commission was very clear in terms of saying that the appointment was illegal and unlawful.

“We are saying we are not afraid of the disciplinary inquiry but stated that we cannot allow someone that has been unlawfully employed to make decisions about pupils or teachers. There are due processes that were not followed and also the law.”

Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the disciplinary hearing was scheduled to take place after judgment had been handed down next week Tuesday.

Heathfield school governing body (SGB) chairperson Vasoula Bailey said: “All of us remain very positive about the matter at this stage. We are overwhelmed by the support we have been receiving from the public.

“There have been messages from social media and WhatsApps from people as far as the UK and America. The support really means a lot.”

SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said they believe it was “ill-conceived” that Neumann was charged.

He said the union represented Neumann in the pre-hearing as he is a member but he has since opted to go the legal route, which they respect.

“Sadtu is hoping for a positive outcome of the case and we will continue supporting him if it needs to go any further,” said Rustin.

Cape Times

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