Education employees may be evicted

2013-02-13 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal Education Department employees who live in state-owned houses without paying rent may soon face eviction.

Senior officials in the department told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) yesterday that six in 10 homes in Melmoth and Ulundi were illegally occupied by tenants who did not pay rent.

Senior general manager Simon Mkhwanazi said there were 752 houses and 351 were not attracting rent.

Out of 224 houses in the Zululand District, only 58 tenants paid rent.

Mkhwanazi said a “blurring of lines” between the responsibilities of his and the Public Works departments contributed to the problems.

He said some employees had since filled in forms with stop order details so that the department could deduct the rent.

“The ball is in their court to sign these stop orders.”

However, he added, it was difficult to access the squatters.

ANC MPL Belinda Scott, chairperson of the finance portfolio committee, said the “nonsense” has been going on for a long time.

“We even had a report from the Ulundi Municipality about the non-payment of not only rental … but non-payment of services.”

Scott said the implicated staff must pay rent retroactively because they had lived in the houses free of charge while earning a salary.

“It’s unacceptable given the financial implications that it has for the Education Department, which has so many critical needs,” Scott said. She suggested that strong legal action be taken.

Education Department head Nkosinathi Sishi said the non-payment of rent was an inherited problem, and it dated back to the the days of the apartheid bantustans.

He said the previous administration was subsidising the employees and that the homes were occupied mostly by clerks, and not teachers.

“Now I’m going to ask our legal team to invoke those eviction orders. People must acknowledge debt that has not been paid for, and arrangements must be made with them in terms of the law of how much they will repay.”

“We’d love to retrieve those funds,” Sishi said.

It also emerged that over 700 teachers who were doing business with the department without permission would have to face a tribunal, while the department is busy re-auditing the capped leave of 56 802 employees.

The committee was told that the department was working around the clock to make sure that the audit was completed by July 31.

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