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Moonlighting led to lecturer getting booted

Published Nov 21, 2023

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Working as a full time lecturer at an university while also working full time as an accounts director at another company, without disclosing to the university that she also had another full time job, has resulted in the university giving the lecturer the boot.

Dr Sibongile Vilakazi turned to the CCMA to fight against her sacking, but the commissioner found that her dismissal was both substantively and procedurally fair.

Aggrieved with this finding, Viklakazi now turned to the Labour Court in Johannesburg, where she asked that the CCMA’s findings be overturned.

Vilakazi was initially employed by the University of Witwatersrand in its Business School section as a part-time lecturer because she also worked for Alexander Forbes. She later resigned from Alexander Forbes, opting to take up full-time employment.

Her duties included teaching, examining, researching / scholarly work, as well as general administrative duties.

The university made it clear in its contract with her that it has a policy in place that an employee must declare other interests. The university said this policy was essential, as it became apparent that there were regular occurrences of academic staff taking up outside interests which could conflict with the interests of the university.

The Labour Court said it was common cause that with the ink barely dry on her permanent employment contract with the university, Vilakazi also took up full time employment with Kantar South Africa as a full time accounts director.

She earned significantly more from the company than from the university.

Acting Judge S Snyman commented that what this meant is that she first took up full-time employment and committed herself to the university. She then turned around, virtually immediately, and took up full-time employment with Kantar, and equally committed herself to Kantar.

“This is an untenable proposition, as a matter of common sense and logic, and how the applicant, as a highly qualified and academic person could not see this, is beyond comprehension,” the judge said.

The head of the department at the university, Professor Paul Alagidede, only came to know of Vilakazi’s double employment about one month after she took up such employment with the other company.

This was after someone had anonymously placed a copy of her employment contract with Kantar in his pigeonhole at the university.

When this state of affairs was discovered, the applicant was reported to the university’s HR department for further action. A disciplinary hearing followed and she was subsequently dismissed.

Judge Snyman commented that on the undeniable facts, Vilakazi was not entitled to and physically could not have performed her full duties simultaneously for two full time employers.

Just as a simple example, the judge said, taking the working hours in the two sets of contracts, she would be expected to render a total of 80 hours of service per month, which translates to her having to work at least 11 hours per day for 7 days per week.

The CCMA commissioner earlier commented on this aspect and said Vilakazi had to show “superhuman abilities” to discharge her obligations under both contracts, which was not “humanly possible” and simply not sustainable.

“Considering the simple fact that the applicant earns much more at Kantar, I have little doubt which employer will get preference if both require work to be done at the same time.

“The availability of the applicant to do what the third respondent (university) expects of her as full time academic is severely compromised by her full-time job at Kantar.”

The judge added that Vilakazi’s review application was doomed from the start.

“The applicant should have taken her medicine, as bitter as it may have tasted, learnt the life lesson that came from it, and moved on,” the judge said in dismissing her application.

Pretoria News