A teacher in the Ohangwena region claimed she was “disgracefully and inhumanely” treated by armed police officers, who came to evict her “unprocedurally” from her duty station at Omundudu Combined School.
The disgruntled teacher, whose name is known to this reporter, last month wrote to the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) and Ombudsman, detailing her complaint on how the police allegedly humiliated her as if she was a criminal.
The teacher had been charged with misconduct by the school for alleged sexual harassment, insubordination and late coming to work.
TUN secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha took up the matter with the education ministry as well as the police authorities. Kavihuha wrote to education executive director Sanet Steenkamp complaining that the use of the police force in work-related disputes amounts to criminalising of the workplace and it is unprofessional, illegal and not warranted.
“Unless a criminal case has been reported and a docket opened, which the police are investigating or have ordered from the appropriate authority, in this case, could only be a court. It is not allowed, and it is never done in a democratic society where there is a rule of law to involve the police in work-related disputes,” Kavihuha reacted.
In response, Steenkamp said the ministry is aware of the said letter.
“This reply is to reaffirm that there have been engagements with Nantu (Namibia National Teachers Union) and the Ohangwena Directorate of Education, Arts, and Culture with regards to the transfer of the staff member away from Omundudu Combined School,” she noted.
Steenkamp yesterday said there is a pending misconduct case against the staff member.
“What transpired was partly due to remedy the situation at the school and to ensure a conducive working environment for all the parties concerned such as the school board, parents, teachers, and learners. We also wrote a professional response to TUN. The staff member moved from Nantu to TUN and is well known for disrupting teaching and learning at school,” Steenkamp stated.
However, Kavihuha dismissed Steenkamp’s allegation that the teacher in question moved from Nantu to TUN, saying she has always been a member of TUN.
Contacted for comment as to why the police were roped in to remove the teacher, police Sebastian Ndeitunga denied any knowledge on the matter, although TUN wrote a letter addressed to him: “This is news to me. I had never heard of it. I will try to find out,” he said.
In the meantime, Kavihuha advised the teacher to report to her duty station at Omundudu.
“The Public Service Act is quite clear, and nowhere does it talk about the so-called temporary transfer, and it requires supervisor and administrative officials to issue only lawful instructions. We demand a public apology within 14 days from you for the unprofessional conduct of abusing and public humiliation of a female teacher at the hands of your officials, especially during these times of heightened incidences of gender-based violence and harassment at work, or otherwise, we will act in defence of the teachers’ dignity and the Namibian workers at large,” Kavihuha demanded.