A Pretoria school principal fired for inappropriately hugging his personal assistant and demanding a kiss has failed in a bid for reinstatement.
The Gauteng education department fired Nyiko Baloyi from Thornridge Secondary School in Montana at the end of last year.
The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) took up the fight on his behalf and appealed to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). Dismissing the appeal, arbitrator Themba Manganyi described Baloyi’s offence.
According to the ruling, the principal asked his PA to proofread letters in his office in July 2019, and when she was done he asked her for a hug.
“She stood up and hugged him. Baloyi squeezed her tightly and forcefully wanted to kiss her,” said Manganyi.
“She told Baloyi to stop what he was doing and he requested for a baby kiss. She moved her face away and told him again to stop what he was doing.
“She could feel Baloyi’s erection because he was squeezing her very tightly. She told Baloyi that she needed to fetch her daughter and that it was late.”
The PA met her mother in the passage as she left Baloyi’s office, and the older woman said she had seen what happened through Baloyi's window. She then confronted the principal in a WhatsApp.
According to Manganyi’s ruling, the PA considered Baloyi a “father, pastor and mentor” and said he was like a brother to her mother.
She disputed Baloyi’s claims that there were teachers in the admin office and that parents were coming to collect reports when she proofread the letters.
“She did not tell her colleagues what happened in Baloyi’s office as she was still in shock,” the ruling said.
In her WhatsApp message, the PA's mother told Baloyi: “What you do is not acceptable the way you were hugging [my daughter] and trying to kiss her I saw you through the window I was waiting for [my daughter] to say something but she didn’t. I'm very disappointed, I can’t believe it’s from you.”
Baloyi responded: “I was just joking with her, sorry my sister, I apologise. Think you will find a place in your heart to forgive me. Sometimes when you are stressed you end up acting funny. Will talk tomorrow. Please.”
Baloyi claimed his PA had been influenced by her mother to fabricate the claims against him. “He said that [the mother] made sexual advances on him,” said Manganyi.
Baloyi should have known better. “He was duty-bound to advise [the PA] that it was improper of her to request a hug from him.”
On Thursday, Manganyi concluded that Baloyi’s dismissal “was substantively fair”.
“There was no evidence that was led in these proceedings regarding the procedural fairness of the dismissal. (Baloyi) only stated on the referral form that his dismissal was procedurally unfair based on the biasness of the chairperson. In the absence of a challenge on this aspect during the proceedings, I conclude that the dismissal was procedurally fair,” Manganyi ruled.