Basic education director-general Bobby Soobrayan has welcomed a disciplinary hearing against him for allegedly erroneously signing off an agreement granting teachers who mark Grade 12 scripts a 100% increase.
Minister Angie Motshekga has placed Soobrayan on “special leave to afford him the space to adequately prepare for his defence,” the department said in a statement.
In March 2011 Soobrayan and the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union signed off an Education Labour Relations Council agreement approving a 100% pay increment for matric script markers.
Later, Soobrayan backtracked, prompting teachers’ union Sadtu to call for his axing. The union referred the matter to the Public Service Commission and also asked Motshekga to discipline Soobrayan.
Soobrayan welcomed the disciplinary hearing, saying it would clear the air once and for all. “There was an error in the agreement, but I signed it and I had no reason to think it was an error. By the way, Sadtu also signed. The issue is: was there an error and if there was could I have foreseen it? These are all legal questions which the judge will answer.”
The ministry’s spokesperson, Hope Mokgatlhe, said the PSC recommended that Soobrayan face a disciplinary hearing.
Motshekga’s spokesperson, Panyaza Lesufi, said the minister had also sought legal advice regarding the dispute between Soobrayan and the union. “Senior counsel advised that the director-general be provided with the opportunity to state his case as the right to be heard is such a fundamental tenet of our legal system.”
Soobrayan, said Lesufi, was given 14 days to respond to the allegations and, after considering his response, Motshekga decided that a disciplinary hearing would be the appropriate route.
“The minister has approached retired high court judge Justice W van der Merwe to preside at the hearing.”
Lesufi said Paddy Padayachee would act as DG in Soobrayan’s absence.
Sadtu could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
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