THREE Bethvale Primary School teachers were horrified to find they are not on the provincial Education Department's database after working and not receiving any remuneration except for a small stipend from the school.
The teachers, who have worked at the school since 2009 but have not been paid by the department since January last year, are now in the process of losing their homes and vehicles and will have to remove their children from university due to financial difficulties.
One of the teachers, Susan Hatches, said she had not been paid by the department since January last year, despite teaching in a vacant post after another teacher retired.
She said the teachers and the school's governing body chairman visited the department in Bhisho last week to find out when they would be paid.
"They said we were not on the list because we handed in applications late but this is not true," she said.
Hatches said she was relying on the small allowance she received from the school and loans from family and friends to make ends meet until the department paid her salary. "There is a lot of pressure on my husband and he cannot pay for everything alone.
"We have three children to support and our financial situation is really bad.
"One of the teachers is now in the process of losing her house and another one had to sell her car.
"Her daughter is studying chemistry at university and she might have to leave her studies now as well," Hatches said.
Bethvale Primary School SGB chairman Warren Francis said: "We drove the teachers to Bhisho last week but when we got there they [the department] treated them as if they are loafers. What they are doing is not right. No one seems to know what is going on."
He said according to the department, the three teachers did not appear on its system to receive letters of appointment, despite teaching at the school since 2009.
"We know that the principal and the teachers have submitted all the relevant documentation so somewhere someone is sabotaging things... This is not how our teachers should be treated," Francis said.
He said the school was seeking legal advice on the matter and was also a member of the Bethelsdorp SGB Unit, which represents the interests of 35 schools in the Port Elizabeth area.
Bethelsdorp SGB Unit spokesman Ronelle Joseph confirmed that Sarah Sephton of the Legal Resources Centre was handling the matter on behalf of the school.
Sanctor High School principal Apollis January said five of the school's nine affected teachers had been paid since the department was ordered to comply with a court order requiring it to pay all teachers in the province by August 17 and appoint temporary teachers in all substantive posts by September 2.
The department had failed to meet these deadlines.
"Four are still awaiting payment. We are giving them what we can but we are running dry quickly. We need these teachers as we only have 30 permanent staff members. We need all nine of these teachers made permanent."
January said the five teachers had only received letters of appointment for one year (2012), which meant the entire process would have to start over again next year.
Meanwhile, a Dumani Primary School Grade R practitioner,Neombizanele Muteka, said she was one of 60 other Grade R teachers in the district who had not been paid since 2010.
"We have also gone to Bhisho to get answers but no one knows what is going on," she said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Education Department district director Nyathi Ntsiko said each Grade R practitioner had an individual case and no two matters were the same. He recommended that those affected visit the district office.
He said the three Bethvale teachers should also visit the district office with their necessary paperwork to resolve the matter.
Provincial Education Department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said all temporary teaching posts were terminated last year with only some being reappointed this year.
"The principal of this school needs to take up the matter with the district office.
"There are a lot of instances where principals allowed these teachers back into posts when they should not have," Pulumani said.