A female bursar at a government school in Gaborone has reportedly been terrorising her colleagues for years now and the school has not taken action against her.
Despite the existence of documentary evidence to prove some of the abuse, the school head, Lillian Rampha, says that she knows nothing about teachers literally suffering such terror at the hands of the bursar.
As late as late last month, the Maikano Junior Secondary School bursar appeared before the Gaborone West Customary Court in a case in which she had insulted a workmate in the workplace during working hours. The case was reported to the police and was brought before the customary court. The bursar pleaded guilty and was fined.
Besides what law enforcement authorities did, the school did not take any action against the bursar. Rampha says that she is aware of neither the infraction nor the court case, both of which took place during working hours.
Two previous incidents that Sunday Standard has learnt of involved assault on teachers. In both cases, it was a hot slap across the face.
The first incident, which involved a female teacher, took place in the staff room and followed an argument which ended when the bursar slapped the teacher hard across the face. A scuffle ensued, was broken up and the issue was reported to the regional education office which referred the issue back to the school. No action was ever taken against the bursar.
The victim in the second incident was a male teacher who was assaulted at a sporting event at the University of Botswana playgrounds. Once more, the assault was the result of an argument and, once more, the argument ended when the bursar leant out of the passenger seat of the school minibus she was sitting in and slapped the teacher across the cheek. This happened in front of some ancillary staff members who happened to be the bursar’s subordinates. When the matter was reported to the Central Police Station (CPS), the ancillary staff members claimed ignorance of the incident. CPS records show that the matter was not pursued because “other witnesses refused to give evidence.” Curiously, and the lack of evidence notwithstanding, the bursar paid P100 as admission of guilt.
The matter did not die after the police station episode but lived long enough, sources say, to compel the bursar to apologise to the victim and vow to never step out of line in as violent a manner.
The bursar has not assaulted any staff member since but the insults incident last month set off alarm bells.
One of the issues that the school has had to deal with recently is that of transportation. Teachers are said to be unhappy about the fact that the bursar has been given authority by school management to authorise use of the school vehicle. Her exercise of authority and discretion on this particular matter has riled some teachers who feel her decisions interfere with their academic work. At a school meeting held recently, teachers asked that this particular task be reassigned, first because they have poor working relations with the bursar but secondly, and more importantly, because they are terrified of the bursar.
Rampha says that as far as she is aware, the bursar has a ‘good’ working relationship with other staff members and that during her stint as school head, she has never had to deal with indiscipline on the bursar’s part as has been alleged. If there was anything amiss it would have been brought to her attention, the head says. To be fair to Rampha, the first two incidents occurred before she became head of the school.
Reached for comment, the Ministry of Education’s spokesperson, Godfrey Kalanke, could not comment on specific details about the bursar’s situation as he still had to conduct his own investigations. However, he stated that generally, criminal misconduct in the government workplace is routinely dealt with both judicially and administratively.
“If an officer commits a crime and the judicial process takes its course, the matter still has to be dealt with administratively,” Kalanke said.
He also revealed that any misconduct on staff member’s part should be recorded in their file.