Coetzee was suspended in May following claims of serious misconduct. He tendered his resignation soon after. Details of the allegations have not been revealed, but art critic Matthew Blackman had penned an open letter accusing Coetzee of inappropriate comments about sexuality, and that he had created an abusive working environment.
Coetzee took the fight to the Labour Court, arguing his disciplinary hearing was unlawful. He asked the court to order that the Zeitz MOCAA Foundation Trust and its trustees no longer continue with its disciplinary investigation following his “unequivocal and immediate resignation without notice”.
On May 15 he was invited to make written representations and given a document titled “precautionary suspension from employment”, he said.
The next day he informed the Zeitz MOCAA Foundation Trust that he tender his immediate resignation. A statement, agreed on between Coetzee and the trustees was issued, announcing Coetzee had tendered his resignation.
“In the eyes of the world, he had resigned with immediate effect. That should've been the end of the matter,” the judgment read.
But the museum argued that at no stage did it agree that Coetzee’s resignation would have immediate effect.
It held Coetzee to at least four weeks’ notice, adding at no stage did he say he was resigning with immediate effect. “The issue in dispute is whether his immediate resignation was accepted.”
The court dismissed Coetzee’s application.