A Western Cape acting principal was unsuccessful in her attempt to get her job back after the the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) found that her dismissal was procedurally and substantively fair and she was not entitled to any relief.
Felecia Dianne Lottering was employed at EJ Malgarte Primary School since October 2005 and she was appointed as acting principal in May 2018 until her dismissal in August 2022.
Lottering was charged with theft after it was discovered that she stole R7,000 in January 2021; she was also charged with dishonesty and authorising of payment without following prescribed procedure.
During the hearing, a former employee at the school, Clarice Jordaan, testified that Lottering was her supervisor and she approached her at her home telling her that she needed R7,000 to supplement the R3,000 that she had available because an amount of R10,000 had to be paid to FNB the following day in order to avoid her sister’s home being repossessed.
Jordaan said Lottering told her that she was going to the school and she will pay R7,000 from the school account into her own account.
She said she suggested that Lottering ask for a loan but she refused. Lottering then asked her not to say anything to Chrisell Africa as she would tell her herself.
Africa was also a teacher at the school and sister to Jordaan.
A while later, Lottering phoned Jordaan from the school and asked her to authorise the transaction which she duly did. When the school re-opened after holidays, she told Lottering that she was reconciling the cash book and asked what entry must be inserted, Lottering indicated “readers”.
This was done because Lottering promised to order books with the money, however, no books were bought.
Later, Jordaan and Africa’s contracts were not renewed as there were rumours that Jordaan stole the money.
Another witness, Avril David Daniels, a circuit manager, testified that he spoke to Lottering in the library about the allegations made against her concerning the missing funds.
Lottering told him that the SGB had decided to pay the money into her account. When he asked why the money could not be paid directly to the service provider, she stated that she would pay the service provider when they delivered the books to her house.
He said he informed her that this was not due process as books do not get delivered to peoples’ homes and payment is directly paid to the providers.
Lottering attended a school hearing without a representative and added her representative Kenneth Williams, told her she should plead guilty.
After the dismissal, Lottering complained about how the proceedings were handled, she said she was not afforded an opportunity to present a defence, she was not represented at the hearing, and her union told her to plead guilty.
In her defence at the ELRC hearing, Lottering stated that she did not want the money to be paid into her account.
She disputed evidence from Jordaan and Africa and said they were unhappy because their contracts were not renewed.
She further stated that if she had lost her job as Jordaan had, she too would fabricate things.
She further added that the evidence was insufficient to warrant a guilty finding on both charges.
Commissioner at the ELRC, Lanthis Taylor, said when one unpacks the substantive fairness of Lottering’s dismissal, it is evident that rules exist in relation to theft and the management of school finances.
It was found that Lottering breached the rules and she pleaded guilty to doing so on own accord.
The commissioner further added that Jordaan had no reason to randomly decide to make a payment to Lottering’s account.
“Jordaan did not have a basis for doing so as the minutes that were on file did not reflect that the SGB insisted that the money be paid into Lottering’s account.’’
Taylor said Jordaan gave evidence against Lottering because there were rumours that that she had stolen the money.
It was found that the school discharged the burden of proving that the Lottering’s dismissal was procedurally and substantively fair and she was not entitled to any relief.