Principal’s long battle to retire

Former FET college principa Piwe Dyafta
Former FET college principa Piwe Dyafta

Dyafta in financial ruin as education authority fails to honour application

A FORMER college principal’s almost decade-long battle to get the Eastern Cape education department to fire him, has left him in dire emotional straits and financial ruin.

What was meant to be a painless early retirement application has turned into a nightmare for father-of-six Piwe Dyafta, 62, of Zwide, Port Elizabeth, whose only desire is to be free from the department’s clutches.

His struggle has not only left him financially battered and bruised, it has also negatively impacted his children’s education.

“I am in the bad books of my sons’ former school, Lawson Brown High, [for outstanding fees] and my youngest had to drop out of college because I cannot afford his bus fare.

“I live on handouts from my eldest son, who has also taken over my bond; my policies have lapsed. I no longer have medical aid and cannot provide the things I used to for my sons,” Dyafta said.

He recounted his frustrating struggle, which has seen him report the issue to the national Education Department, appeal to the public protector’s office for help and approach the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) – all to no avail.

“The problems started in 2002, when FET [further education and training] colleges had to be merged. All hell broke loose for me.

“I was the principal of John Knox Bokwe College in Mdantsane, which was integrated with the former East London Technical College and Border Technical College,” he said.

The entities became the Buffalo City College.

“In 2005, my doctor gave me long leave for all four quarters of the year because I was suffering depression caused by work-related stress.

“The following year my superiors approached me and gave me two options: come back to work full-time or apply for early retirement,” Dyafta said.

He chose the latter option and submitted all the necessary documentation within two weeks. “That was in 2006, and from then until October 2008 I received my state salary monthly until it abruptly stopped in late 2008, to this day,” Dyafta said.

Public protector spokesman Oupa Segwale said: “The complaint was lodged in 2013, dealt with, referred to the department and the file closed the same year. This happened in five months,” he said.

It had come to light that the matter had been before the Labour Court and Dyafta was the applicant.

It was postponed sine die (without any future date). The applicant was ordered to pay the respondent wasted cost occasioned by the postponement, according to the court order dated May 29 2012.

“We were never informed of the Labour Court process by [Dyafta] when the complaint was lodged in 2013,” Segwale said.

Weekend Post approached the national Higher Education Department for comment, whose spokeswoman referred the matter to the province. Comment from the provincial department was still outstanding at the time of going to print.

Queries sent to Sadtu were also unanswered.

-Xolisa Phillip

Leave a Reply