PTA fund collection leaves teacher jobless

PTA fund collection leaves teacher jobless
PTA fund collection leaves teacher jobless

A teacher dismissed from work for collecting Parent Teacher Association (PTA) funds from students, acting against the headteacher’s instruction, has failed to secure her job following the incident.

Orebonye Baitseng, who was stationed at Palapye Junior Secondary School, was fired in February 2019 for collecting P3,545 contrary to the principal’s instruction and, as a result, was charged with willful disobedience of lawful order.

Following her dismissal, Baitseng has been fighting to get her teaching job back even approaching the courts for a review of her sacking.

However, on Friday the Court of Appeal (CoA) dismissed her final appeal on grounds that nothing indicated that she was framed and the charges were addressed as to what happened on the ground.

Justice Leatile Dambe said the lower court was right to hold that the disciplinary hearing for Baitseng was procedurally and substantively fair.

“On whether or not the inquiry was conducted in good faith my view is that the witnesses stated their testimonies about what really happened. The employee was not framed and the charges were addressed properly. There was good faith on the part of the employer,” Dambe said.

The judge explained that in terms of the translated record there was a valid reason for the dismissal of the complainant as it was evident that she went against the headteacher’s instructions.

She emphasised that there was a clear indication of impartiality during the hearing held by the chairperson of the disciplinary committee.

“In giving evidence after being involved in the preparation of charges the complainant did not, by that step, undermine the impartiality of the tribunal. The headmaster was the complainant’s supervisor who intimately knew what took place by giving evidence,” Dambe said.

Justice Dambe pointed out that the ex-teacher admitted during proceedings to having had collected the money, so there was no issue with regards whether or not she did collect the money, especially since the evidence of the head of department and other witnesses was sufficient to prove the complainant’s case.

On the account that the ex-teacher said she was not accorded a fair hearing, Dambe disagreed saying it was evident from the correspondence that Baitseng was given reasonable notice.

“I hold that the school fulfilled all the requirements regarding reasonable notice of time and venue to be communicated to the employee. These formalities were done within reasonable time given the sequence of events starting with a show cause letter,” she said.

The judge also said it was not an accurate reflection that the complainant was prevented from asking certain questions as what emerged from the case was that the chairperson fully informed her about her right to cross-examine the witnesses and that it was done in the opening statement.

Further, after each witness she was invited to cross-examine and that she was given an opportunity to mitigate after the punishment was handed down and advised on her right to appeal.

Meanwhile Baitseng, who was charged in accordance with the Public Service Act of 2008, was called for disciplinary hearing on September 7, 2018, which resulted in her dismissal. She was then dismissed on February 26, 2019, upon being found guilty.

The events were the genesis of her fight before the courts, starting with a review application before the High Court that was dismissed in May 26, 2021, by the now CoA judge president, Tebogo Tau. On June 4, 2021, she noted the current appeal.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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