School dismisses truant teacher

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Katima Mulilo

A former school teacher Coster Lupalezwi who was permanently employed by the education ministry in 2006 as a Silozi teacher at Sanjo Senior Secondary School, some 40 kilometres east of Katima Mulilo, and was dismissed earlier this year for truancy, claims his dismissal was unfair.

The termination letter, a copy of which was availed to New Era, says Lupalezwi “was absent from work between 12 January 2016 and 29 April 2016 without authorised leave or permission”.

“The fact that you absented yourself from your official duties for more than thirty (30) days and your failure to communicate your absence simply portrays that you are no longer interested in rendering services to this Ministry,” reads the termination letter that divorced him from his duties.

However in his defence Lupalezwi says his absence from work was not deliberate but was due to an illness of dizziness that he has experienced over a period of year.

“I was absent because I was sick and I had to travel to hospital in WIndhoek,” said Lupalezwi.
He feels the termination letter is contradictory. “I went to report for work on the 15th of February but the principal refused to accept my leave days, and says that I did not communicate with him, while I did that, I even wanted to send my leave applications when I was sick but I was told that I should bring them in person,” he narrated.

He added that after that he was telephonically contacted by the school inspector Dial Limbo on the 23rd of February. He was allegedly told there was no need for a disciplinary hearing.

Approached for comment Limbo dismissed Lupalezwi’s allegations. “We do not work like that, how can I call him and tell him he is fired. He was fired because of abscondment, he was absent from work after his sick leave, and I tried to tell him to go back to work, but he refused saying all he wanted was to be transferred to another school,” elaborated Limbo.

Lupalezwi claims the main reason he was dismissed was because he was disliked, among others, by the school principal, school board members, learners and parents, for allegedly failing their children. He said the regional education director, Austin Samupwa, told him he was unaware of his dismissal.

Samupwa however dismissed Lupalezwi’s version saying, “Everything has to be approved by me – the only reason he was fired is that he absconded, he was absent from work for more than 30 days.”

“He only has himself to blame – if he thinks his dismissal was unfair he is free to approach the labour court,” stressed Samupwa.

Samupwa also shared Limbo’s sentiments that the school pleaded with Lupalezwi to go back to work but this apparently fell on deaf ears and they had no choice but to axe him as they had to hire another teacher to ensure learners did not fall behind in their Silozi lessons.

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