Education director, accused of hiring KZN MEC's 'girlfriend' to mark exam scripts, fights back
Durban - The director of employee relations in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education accused of appointing an “unqualified” teacher to mark scripts is fighting back against his suspension and is disputing his involvement in the appointment.
The official, whose name is known to The Mercury, was placed on suspension last month after he was accused of appointing an educator on the basis that she was a girlfriend of Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu.
Mshengu has denied that the educator was his girlfriend. In a 20-page letter written to the head of department, Dr Enock Nzama, the official rejects claims that he played any role in the appointment of the teacher.
He said the premature suspension had the potential to damage his reputation.
He gave a detailed representation of what had transpired and his involvement with the marker appointment issue.
“My letter of suspension does not indicate how I am alleged to be involved in his/her appointment as a marker for NSC examinations in 2019. The only (name of the educator) that we have on record in the employee directorate indicates two incidents,” he said.
He said their record indicated that this teacher had launched a grievance of victimisation, alleging that her application as a marker had not been submitted to the department.
She was also on the verge of being charged for misconduct relating to poor performance, “in which the District Office requested our intervention. I have jurisdiction to address the grievance”, he said.
He said he investigated the allegation of victimisation and called the officials responsible for the application for marker process to check whether they had received the educator’s application.
“They confirmed receipt and said they were going through the sifting process.”
He said he checked again and was informed the application had been sent to head office for final determination. He said he did this only as it was necessary for his investigation into the allegations of victimisation.
“On December 7, 2019, it was brought to my attention by (another senior official at head office) who queried my involvement with the educator. He indicated that she was not suited to mark scripts for mathematical literacy.
“My response to him was that I had only dealt with a grievance lodged by the educator.
“If I had had an opportunity to make representations, these facts would have been placed before the head of department.
“I deny the allegation that I had anything to do with the appointment of the educator as a 2019 NSC marker,” he said.
The official said other senior officials accused of wrongdoing were given opportunities to respond to allegations against them.
“Why was I not given an opportunity to answer any questions relating to the above, or why was I not given an opportunity to place my version before the head of department before the decision to suspend me was taken?
“The argument that the employer is conducting an investigation, and therefore I must be placed on precautionary suspension is not a fair reason, but a punitive one and has the potential of causing reputational damage through suspicion and gossip,” he said.
The Mercury’s attempt to reach out to the official were unsuccessful.
Head of Department Dr Nzama refused to speak on the matter, saying the case would be heard later this month.
“The matter is sub judice. I am the one who suspended him and will not be sharing the information in public as that will jeopardise the case. I have received calls from other media and told them the same,” he said.