Four years’ sick leave will be recovered from ‘incurable’ principal

2012-04-17 00:00

THE money paid to a South Coast principal who has been on sick leave for more than four years will be recovered from her pension benefits, says the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department.

It was reported recently that Zibangile “Lizzy” Gwala, principal of Dalusizo High School at Umkomaas, went on sick leave in 2007, and has not been back since.

The department said a statement she made to a Durban newspaper that she had an incurable illness was a direct contradiction of the findings of the department’s health risk manager that she should return to work, “albeit with adaptation to her duties”.

The department will offer Gwala a vacant teaching position with adapted duties, or a vacant public service post, or discharge her from her post on account of unfitness for the duties attached to the post, in which event it will recover all the money she was overpaid.

It denied a report that it had allowed Gwala to remain on sick leave for such a long time.

“She has since 2007 been submitting applications for normal sick leave and for incapacity leave, and these were processed accordingly by the department,” spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said in a statement.

“The department granted Mrs Gwala leave without pay from July 20, 2009, to December 11, 2009, and having received an application for incapacity leave from her on April 5, 2012, the department is in the process of granting her leave without pay for the period from December 12, 2009 to March 23, 2012,” he said.

It is not clear why the department did not investigate sooner why she was not at school during 2010 and 2011.

“It is true that Mrs Gwala has been on the payroll of the department, even though she has not been gainfully employed.

“However, such money or any salaries overpaid to her shall be recovered from her pension benefits.”

The department said it needed to find a new principal, as Dalusizo High’s matric pass rate had fallen from 27% in 2009 to 6,25% in 2011.

— Witness Reporter.

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