Education MEC and her department in violation of a court order

James Masango MP

DA Chairperson: Mpumalanga:

Mpumalanga education MEC, Reginah Mhaule, has failed to abide by a court order, which ordered her to reverse the appointment of Ms. N.E Mahlangu, as deputy principal of Sizani Primary School in the Dr. JS Moroka municipality.

In 2011 a vacancy for deputy principal arose at the School. Since then, the school and the governing body were allegedly put under pressure by Nkangala district director Mr JJ Mabena – to hire Ms. N.E Mahlangu without advertising for the post.

In 2013, the post was advertised for the first time, and increased pressure was put on the SGB to appoint Ms Mahlangu. The SGB refused, and wrote to the Department of Education and the HOD reporting Mr Mabena’s actions and requesting assistance in the matter.

At the beginning of the 2014 school year, Ms Mahlangu was appointed to the position without the approval of the SGB. When the SGB objected to this decision, Mr Mabena immediately suspended the principal, Ms Mohapi, on the grounds of her taking sides with the SGB, and appointed Ms Mahlangu as acting principal.

Last year, the SGB took MEC Mhaule, the HOD of the department and Ms. Mahlangu to the High Court opposing the appointment.

In a judgement dated 8 August 2014, Judge Justice Lazarus AJ, ordered that the department set aside the appointment of Ms. Mahlangu and re-advertise the position. The Judge also ordered the MEC and the HOD to stop victimising, bullying and intimidating Ms. Mohapi, the school principal. But the department has failed to act on the judgement, and Ms. Mahlangu is still the deputy principal.

On 1 February 2015, the SGB wrote a letter to Ms. Mahlangu reminding her of the court order and also informing her that she will be denied access to the school premises from Monday 9 February 2015.

On 5 February 2015, the office of the Chief Justice wrote a letter to the Mpumalanga Department of Education reminding them of the court order. The department was also reminded that failure to adhere to the court order “will only constitute contempt of court.”

On 6 February 2015, Mr. RP Mgwenya, the department’s head of litigation and advisory services, responded to the SGB by saying that “the court order relied upon is neither reviewing nor setting aside the decision to transfer Ms. Mahlangu.” He added that the matter is still sub-judice and therefore any act of forceful removal of Ms. N.E Mahlangu will be unlawful.

The DA will once again write to MEC Mhaule and insist that she follow the court order by reversing the appointment of Ms. N.E Mahlangu and also re-advertise the post of deputy principal.

From his actions it is becoming increasingly clear that Mr Mabena regards schools under his jurisdiction as his own fiefdom, and uses the appointment of senior positions to dish out favours, irrespective of their suitability for the positions, or the recommendations of the governing bodies.

The MEC has done absolutely nothing on this matter. This shows that the ANC does not respect court orders. They should be the custodians of the constitution and rules, but it seems that they don’t do that.