Teacher accuses Jacaranda Director/PRO of forgery to deny him P80, 000 gratuity
Jacaranda Primary School’s Director and Public Relations Officer (PRO) were hauled before Francistown Magistrates Court this week, accused of forging a former teacher’s signature to get out of paying him his full gratuity.
Hit with a single charge of forgery, Jennepher Arbi, 56, and Fatima Jackson, 36, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail, with court ordering they return on 24 February next year, when trial dates will be set.
For the complainant, Jackson Namujanda, it represents progress in a matter that has been rumbling on for close to four years.
The 35-year-old Tanzanian educator insists he is owed close to P80, 000 by the school, which he says Arbi and Jackson tried to cheat him out of by faking his signature on a bogus contract.
Narrating his tale of woe to The Voice, Namujanda revealed that in 2016, the school sent its Principal to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to recruit teachers.
“We were promised our starting salary would be P10, 000,” he said, adding that although some of his colleagues travelled back to Botswana with the School Head, he remained behind as he didn’t have a passport at the time.
“I finally got my passport in 2017 and quickly joined the Block 5 Jacaranda campus [the school also has a secondary premises in Molapo Estates]. Upon arrival, the school Director, Mrs Arbi, offered me P4, 500 as a monthly salary.”
Although he initially refused the three-year offer, Namujanda says he decided to accept after Arbi promised he would receive annual bonuses.
“I was to get 25 percent of my annual bonus after the first year, 27 percent after year two and 30 percent on completion of the third year,” continued the French teacher.
Not long after assuming his post, Namujanda says he quickly realised all was not well at the school, accusing the powers-that-be of ‘dehumanization acts’ on teachers.
“At ever school function, teachers were ordered by the school directors to cook food and sell it to parents, sweep the school compound, put up tents and remove them, arrange chairs for the guest and clean them. The worse was that we were given food to eat in the evening after cleaning and removing everything; sometimes we knocked off at 1am!”
According to Namujanda, in April and May 2018, fed-up teachers quit the school en masse. To cover for the shortage, he was assigned to teach ICT as well as French, with his salary increased to P7, 500.
It was in December 2019, as his initial contract was coming to an end, that Namujanda claims the forgery took place.
“I was called by Mr and Mrs Arbi, the two Directors, and was given a letter to sign that my contract would not be renewed. The same statement stated that ‘All my dues will be paid including my gratuity.’ I signed while smiling, not knowing I would soon be crying.”
The complainant told The Voice he was also given an ‘end of employment’ contract to sign, which declared he had received all his dues.
“I told them that I won’t sign before first seeing the cheque. When they gave it to me, only P11, 699. 60 was written on it whereas I was expecting something close to P90, 000!”
Demanding the rest, Namujanda says Mrs Arbi’s response was that when he first started working for them, he signed a contract waving away his right to gratuity.
“This was complete rubbish. When I asked to see the said contract, she said I should come back the next day. It was then that she produced the supposed contract and I realised someone had cut my signature from another document and pasted it onto this one.”
After reporting his concerns to Kutlwano Police, the cops questioned both Arbi and Jackson but didn’t pursue the matter due to lack of evidence. Arbi reportedly responded by opening a defamation case against her accuser, demanding P200, 000, a matter that died in court.
Meanwhile, unsatisfied, Namujanda then approached the District Commissioner, who redirected the Tanzanian to the Industrial Court where he registered his grievances.
When the case was finally called, the defence seemingly filed the alleged forged contract as evidence. Namujanda, who is now teaching at Ridgeview Primary in Area W, immediately alerted the police, who seized the contract and sent it for analysis with another document bearing his signature.
It was ruled there was enough suspicion to proceed with the case, which finally landed before the Magistrates Court on Tuesday.