Cape Town – After fighting allegations of sexual harassment for seven years, a Mfuleni teacher has lost his fifth appeal, but his continued employment as a teacher has been slammed.
Labour Court judge Anton Steenkamp delivered a scathing judgment earlier this month, saying Monde Chris Satani was grasping at straws and the matter had dragged on for seven years at considerable cost to the fiscus.
While Satani was found guilty in 2012 of making inappropriate remarks of a sexually suggestive nature to a Grade 6 pupil at Bardale Primary School in Mfuleni, Blue Downs, given a R6 000 fine and a final written warning, he is still teaching, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has confirmed.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said yesterday that the incident happened in 2012 and that WCED acted on the case immediately.
“WCED acted in terms of the relevant policies and procedures and the teacher was found guilty of misconduct fined R6000 and given a final written warning. The teacher has been challenging the sanction and decision by the presiding officer ever since.
“If the teacher transgressed again that would be acted upon immediately. We take these matters very seriously. However, we also have to follow procedure,” Hammond said.
The complainant, who was 13 at the time, was among other pupils who did poorly in mathematics and English.
Satani, the class teacher, called them to his desk to discuss their marks. According to the pupil, he called them individually to his desk, asked her if she knew that she was beautiful, and for her cellphone number.
She claimed that the next day he called her again to his desk and asked her for her number.
He also asked her if she had a boyfriend, if she went out walking at night and if she would meet him in the bush.
She refused to give him her number. On both occasions, the incident happened in class where there were other pupils.
She reported the incident to another pupil as well as to her aunt, who in turn reported what she had been told to the school principal.
Among the grounds for Satani’s appeal was that the complainant should have called other pupils as witnesses.
Judge Steenkamp said it may well be that the department could have called other pupils to testify, but it would have been near impossible.
“This arbitration took place more than five years after the original incident. The pupils were then in Grade 6. By the time of the arbitration, all of them had left primary school; in the case of (the victim), she is now 18 and living in the Eastern Cape.
“This matter has dragged on for seven years at considerable cost to the fiscus It should, at the very latest, have stopped after the second arbitration.
"Yet Mr Satani 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 exceed the R6 000 fine that Satani could pay off over a year, and the final written warning would have lapsed more than six years ago, he added.
“Taking into account the considerations of both law and fairness, the unsuccessful applicant should pay the costs of this application,” Judge Steenkamp said.