Teacher awaiting backpay order now facing bill

AN EASTERN Cape teacher has received a R57 000 bill from the Western Cape government, a month after winning a salary battle against the Department of Education. The bill is for six months' salary paid to Mzoxolo Mali while he awaited his transfer to the Eastern Cape to be sorted out. Although the Western Cape stopped paying Mali's salary in February last year, it took the Eastern Cape province until October to sort out the transfer and begin paying his salary. To force the department to pay for the months he went unpaid, Mali took the matter to court and was awarded the backpay – an amount in the region of R252000. The Port Elizabeth Labour Court on February 12 instructed Bhisho to pay Mali the money owing to him within 30 days of the order. His celebrations were short-lived however when a letter of demand arrived last week from Helen Zille's government and the March 12 deadline passed with Bhisho not having paid. Yesterday, Mali said he was disappointed Bhisho had neither paid the money owed, nor settled the matter with the Western Cape as instructed. He said the court order granted last month included an instruction that the provincial education department pay the money owing to the Western Cape. "This is bad. I'm blacklisted everywhere and now I have to pay this money. My children are suffering, both at school and at home." His troubles started when he moved from Inkwenkwezi Senior Secondary School in the Western Cape to Fort Malan Senior Secondary in Dutywa. In a letter of demand from the Western Cape education department, it says the repayments are for salary paid from September 2012 to February last year. Western Cape education department spokesman Paddy Attwell said: "According to our records, Mr Mali accepted a post with the Eastern Cape Education Department while still employed by the Western Cape Education Department [WCED]. He did not tell WCED that he had moved to the Eastern Cape. WCED stopped his salary when it became aware of his absence. We are following due process to recover the debt." However, Mali disputed the claim that he had not informed the WCED. Eastern Cape education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said he had asked the department to find out when the order would be implemented. "I need to find out what stage the implementation of the order is at." Mali said he would consult his lawyers. - Msindisi Fengu