Teacher triumphs against wrongful exclusion after two years

Mlungisi Valisi
Mlungisi Valisi

A costly error made by Eastern Cape education officials resulted in a passionate maths teacher losing out on two years’ worth of lucrative work in a public school.

Mlungisi Valisi (40) found out about this in 2016 when Gauteng education officials could not enter his name on Persal – a government employee registration system.

His name was “blocked” because Eastern Cape officials erroneously captured that he was dismissed for absconding when in fact his temporary teacher contract had expired on December 31 2008.

For five months, officials in Gauteng allowed Valisi to be in class without having been vetted.

They only found later that the system was rejecting him and by then he had not been paid his salary for duties he performed as a maths teacher between July and December 2016.

A relieved Valisi said after two years of fighting, Gauteng education finally paid, although he was not convinced with the department’s calculations, but that’s another battle.

“Eastern Cape has also contacted me saying it was an error on their part and they will rectify their records. Once that is done Gauteng will reinstate me, so that is a huge relief,” he said.

Valisi said he was going to legally pursue the issue of compensation as he had explained to Eastern Cape officials that their error caused him to lose income for two years.

He thanked City Press for its involvement.

“Without your involvement I would still be fighting a losing battle,” Valisi said.

He said he had tried in vain to let Gauteng officials know that this was an error and to have Eastern Cape authorities attend to the matter.

It was only after City Press intervened a month ago by asking questions of Eastern Cape authorities about the blunder that it was finally acknowledged.

This week, Eastern Cape education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani confirmed that the department’s investigation revealed that the error occurred when officials recorded the type of his termination on Persal.

“We’ve liaised with the district office and it is in the process of rectifying the error,” Pulumani said.

The provincial department also extended its “deepest and sincere apologies for inconveniencing” Valisi.

After his resignation from the Gauteng education department in 2016, Valisi joined a private school, earning R10 000 less than he was supposed to get from government.

City Press has seen an email Valisi sent in September to the head of Eastern Cape education, Themba Kojana, and chief of staff in the office of the MEC Nkosiphendule Duntsula after initial phone calls to the department raising his plight allegedly proved futile.

In that email Valisi said he was seeking their intervention because he “suffered and continues to suffer emotionally and financially. As such, my future and the wellbeing of my family is negatively affected.”

But he said the two senior authorities never responded.

When Gauteng authorities were asked to respond on how Valisi was employed, provincial education spokesperson Steve Mabona said there were challenges on the verification process of employees from other provinces, which have since been resolved.

Valisi was employed as a maths teacher for Grades 9, 11 and 12 at St Ansgar’s Combined School in Lanseria in July 2016. He quit in December that year after he could no longer continue working without compensation.

Armed with a national diploma in technical education majoring in maths, graphics and technology – which he claims he obtained cum laude at the then Eastern Cape Technikon, now Walter Sisulu University (WSU) – Valisi said he was excited and thought the “future looked bright”.

He later added two advanced qualifications from WSU, majoring in maths and maths literacy, and another in education from North-West University.

He started working as a Grade 10 and 11 maths and English teacher at St James Secondary School in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, between 2005 and 2006. The school is one of the best performing in that province.

Between September and December 2006, he worked as a Grade 10 and 11 maths and maths literacy teacher at Pakamani Senior Secondary School in Butterworth, also in the Eastern Cape.

He said he left because his contract as a temporary teacher was not renewed by Eastern Cape authorities.

He then left for North West, where he worked as a technology, natural sciences, maths and maths literacy teacher at Tshebedisano Secondary School until July 2016.

Valisi said he had worked without any problems in North West and claimed to have been promoted to deputy principal from 2013, following his involvement in maths intervention camps and a stint as a senior marker at the external matric marking centre, until he left to pursue greener pastures in Gauteng.

He dismissed claims made by Gauteng authorities that he misrepresented himself when he was employed.

“If I understand correctly they are basically saying I lied and that’s not true. I was never dismissed and I never underwent any disciplinary hearing for that matter,” he said.

Valisi said he was happy the matter was closed and he could now get his life back.

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