Teachers ‘caught in debt trap’ want government to help them out

2012-11-05 00:00

THOUSANDS of teachers in KwaZulu-Natal are reportedly trapped in a debt cycle, something that is beginning to affect their work, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said on Saturday.

The union claims that garnishee orders have been issued against its members, and wants government to assist to bail out the teachers.

In KZN alone, there are currently 12 000 Sadtu members involved in garnishee cases.

This emerged during a march by Sadtu to the provincial legislature on Saturday to highlight their concern about garnishee orders and teachers’ working conditions in general.

Sadtu national deputy secretary-general Dolopi Nkosana said the government ought to find a way to rescue the teachers from the trap.

“Teachers are permanently broke, this is affecting their work because some of them cannot even afford to go to work. This is something that should be looked into, the government needs to assist and look into how it could bail out the teachers,” he said.

He said the union suspected that some of the garnishee orders were fraudulently reinstated after they had been fully paid, and that employees from the Department of Education in the garnishee office and those from the Department of Justice were colluding in perpetuating that fraud.

Nkosana said there were many instances where garnishee orders that had been paid up suddenly reappeared within a month or two.

Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi said the head of the KZN Education Department, Nkosinathi Sishi, should clean up the office of the garnishee orders.

Ravi Pillay, who accepted the memorandum on behalf of the Premier Zweli Mkhize, said the matter would be passed on to the premier.

In a statement yesterday, department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they had noted the emerging trend of teachers retiring before normal retirement age to collect their pension payout.

“Many of these educators resign in order to use their pension payout to pay off debts,” he said.

“They generally struggle to survive afterwards and place applications to be re-employed.

“The disadvantages of this are that when the retirement age finally comes, these educators will not have accumulated enough pensions to live a lifestyle befitting their status as professionals,” Mahlambi said.

He warned other teachers not to fall into the same trap.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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