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Education bosses told to change tune after punishing teacher for singing in church choir

15 January 2022 - 14:02
Teacher Maria Mnisi was given a final written warning for singing in a church choir. File photo
Teacher Maria Mnisi was given a final written warning for singing in a church choir. File photo
Image: 123rf/americanspirit

A teacher who was given a final written warning for singing in a church choir has had it expunged after appealing.

Education Labour Relations Council arbitrator Mathews Ramotshela said the Limpopo education department “dismally failed” to produce evidence for its claim that Maria Mnisi took a second job with permission.

The dispute revolved around a R15,000 payment Mnisi's Evangelical Presbyterian Church choir received for singing at a provincial government function.

The education department deputy director for conduct management, Mbengeni Netshifhefhe, testified that the auditor-general found Mnisi “engaged in remunerative work beyond her scope of employment”.

The department asked Mnisi, also the choir secretary, to respond to the allegation and found she did not apply for permission.

But Mnisi said choristers did not receive any money even when the choir was paid for performances.

Recounting her evidence, Ramotshela said: “Mostly they sing over weekends. Sometimes the choir gets remunerated for performances. The money gets paid directly into the choir’s bank account.

“No part of any such monies ever gets paid to individual members as choristers do not get remunerated for performing in the choir.”

Commenting on the education department decision to sanction Mnisi, Ramotshela said the teacher did not receive a “red cent” for her participation in the choir.

“One cannot with conviction say that she is involved in extraneous work,” he said. “In my considered view, she did not need any permission to participate in church and/or choir activities.

“One wonders how, given the paucity of any evidence that implies wrongdoing, the employer deemed it necessary to arraign the employee for this type of misconduct with a final warning as a penalty.”

Ramotshela declared the final written warning issued in June 2021 “null and void”.



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