Iketsetseng teachers ordered to answer theft charge

Challenge suspension, after alleged misuse funds intended for school trip

 

’MABELEME MOKETE

MASERU – Three Iketsetseng Private School teachers suspended pending a disciplinary hearing on Thursday lost their legal challenge of the suspension in the High Court. The trio, Matšeliso Morake, ’Malerato Motsamai and ’Mamohau Hooli opened a case against their principal, Sekhonyana Nkuatsana, after receiving a charge sheet accusing them of embezzling school funds, insubordination and dishonesty.

They refused to pay back the school funds that are in their possessions and other school teachers to whom they lend part of that money to. The money was contributed by learners from various grades in the school, intended to pay for the educational excursions in 2020 but such trips could not materialise due to Covid-19 pandemic that forced schools to close down for over a year.

The funds have remained with the teachers for over 15 months. In the High Court before Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi on yesterday, the teachers demanded that the court should prohibit the school from hauling them before a disciplinary hearing after misusing school funds.

The court, however, ruled in favour of the school indicating that the teachers must indeed attend the disciplinary hearing because it (the court) does not have the power or jurisdiction to mediate with the internal disciplinary processes of the school.

“Whatever you have as evidence, you should go and raise it before the disciplinary inquiry panel,” Justice Monaphathi said. Again, the court agreed that the Plaintiffs’ application which was application for review, did not comply with Rule 50 of High Court rules. Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, who is the school’s attorney, indicated that before these three teachers were suspended, they were served with letters on October 18, 2021, by the acting principal to present reasons why disciplinary action could not be taken against them due to failure to return the funds that were in their possessions regardless of numerous appeals made to surrender the funds.

He further stated that all the three teachers responded to the letters on October 25, 2021, indicating that they denied possession of the funds in question; and that on October 29, 2021, they were all suspended pending investigations and disciplinary enquiry against them.

On November 16, 2021, they were given a notification of disciplinary inquiry which is popularly known as a charge sheet which was inviting them to a disciplinary hearing on December 8, 2021, at 09:30 hours.

However, instead of attending the disciplinary hearing, on December 3, 2021, they went to court to obstruct the school from taking a disciplinary action against them. Intervening on their behalf Advocate Borenahabokhethe Sekonyela managed to get a court order stopping the disciplinary process, which also stated that the three teachers could go back to work while awaiting the ruling of the disciplinary hearing case before Judge Monaphathi.

However, their victory was short lived when Justice Monaphathi ruled in the favour of the school, sending them for a hearing to answer for their alleged misconduct.

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