Judge slams teacher who pestered 13-year-old for her phone number
Seven years after he made sexually suggestive remarks to a 13-year-old in his class, a Cape Town teacher’s attempts to clear his name have suffered their fifth defeat.
Monde Chris Satani, who is still teaching at Bardale Primary School in Mfuleni, has been ordered by the Labour Court in Cape Town to pay a R6,000 fine imposed in 2012.
Judge Anton Steenkamp said it would be unfair to make the Western Cape education department keep paying legal bills in the case and ordered Satani to pay the costs it incurred defending his latest court challenge.
Satani’s encounters with labour law began at a disciplinary hearing, where he was accused of repeatedly asking a Grade 6 pupil for her cellphone number, inviting her to meet him in the bush and inquiring if she had a boyfriend.
Steenkamp said in his judgment last week: “According to the learner, Mr Satani asked her if she knew that she was beautiful.”
The teacher was found guilty of misconduct, fined R6,000 and given a final written warning.
He referred an unfair labour practice dispute to the Education Labour Relations Council, which dismissed his case.
Satani then appealed to the Labour Court. When that failed, he went to the Labour Appeal Court, the only forum in which he scored a victory.
A new arbitration was ordered, where Satani was defeated again. Last week’s fifth defeat was the outcome of his application for a review of the second arbitration.
Steenkamp said the second arbitrator, Pierre van Tonder, had produced a commendable 58-page report after hearing testimony from the pupil that Satani had singled out, who by now is 18 years old and living in the Eastern Cape.
“He found that there was no plausible reason why [she] would have fabricated her evidence. The arbitrator arrived at a reasonable result on the evidence before him,” he said.
Steenkamp said the matter had “dragged on for seven years, at considerable cost to the fiscus”.
He said Satani should have admitted defeat after the second arbitration, “yet chose to continue litigating, attorney and counsel at his side, even in the arbitration process, which is meant to be quick and informal, and usually without legal representation.
“The costs far exceeded the R6,000 fine that he could pay off over a year. The final written warning would have lapsed more than six years ago. Not only was he ultimately unsuccessful, I can see no reason in fairness why the department should have continued to pay his costs after the second arbitration award - a lengthy, well-considered and well-reasoned one - had been handed down,” said Steenkamp.
Education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond confirmed: “Mr Satani is still employed by the department at Bardale Primary School as a post level 1 educator.”