Conspiring wife

Image via: Adobe Stock

Principal Wesley Neumann’s interdict application struck off the roll

The Labour Court has dismissed Heathfield High School Principal Wesley Neumann’s attempt to halt his disciplinary proceedings with the WCED.

Conspiring wife

Image via: Adobe Stock

The Labour Court, on Monday 2 November 2020, ruled in favour of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and dismissed Heathfield High School Principal Wesley Neumann’s attempt to halt his disciplinary proceedings by means of an interdict.   

According to WCED Director of Communications Bronagh Hammond, the interdict application made by Neumann had been struck off the roll with costs.


According to the WCED, the decision by the National Government to re-open public schools post the COVID-19 hard lockdown on 1 June 2020 was “rational, constitutional and based on solid expert medical advice,” as determined by the high court in Gauteng.  

“Along with all others, the educators and Grade 12 learners at Heathfield High were required to return to school on the gazetted date of 1 June 2020,” said Hammond. 

Hammond said various officials engaged with Neumann attempting to persuade him to reopen the school, or keep it open for those learners that, according to National Directions, were required to attend school, however, he continued to actively participate in a campaign against the reopening of schools. 

In this process, parents of the school were informed: “Not to send their children to school”.

During the week’s short break for Grade 12’s in July, the Head of Department (HOD) wrote to Neumann stating the following:

“Grade12 is the culmination of the career of every learner. Some reach this milestone by overcoming severe personal and socio-economic obstacles. Consequently, it is the department’s responsibility to ensure that each learner, not only in Grade 12, makes a success of his/her school career. The face-to-face engagement of a teacher with learners remains critical in the pedagogical enterprise which this department will protect at all cost.”

According to Hammond, the HOD reminded Neumann that the Grade 12s had lost teaching time during lockdown and that the remaining teaching time was essential in preparation for their final examinations. 

“Mr Neumann was thus instructed to ensure that every ‘Grade 12 learner and their parents/guardians are informed, in writing, of the requirement that every Grade 12 learner must physically be at school every day of the week, from 3 August 2020, until the start of their final NSC examinations”.

Neumann was also advised that directives had been received from the Director-General of the Department of Basic Education, which urged the Provincial Government to implement disciplinary procedures where educators refused to report for duty. Hammond said Neumann failed to comply with the deadline to inform parents as such and responded by addressing a “hostile and defamatory” letter to the HOD, which he elected to copy to “all media houses”. 


After additional correspondence, the WCED informed Neumann of charges that were being brought against him, including that of failing to carry out a lawful instruction of the employer, committing misconduct by allegedly encouraging personnel to not report for duty and discouraging the attendance of learners via social media platforms, and for prejudicing the administration, discipline or efficiency of the WCED, by distributing disrespectful pictures and /or videos on Facebook.

“Neumann subsequently then sought an urgent interdict just days before his disciplinary hearing was scheduled to commence, to prevent the disciplinary hearing. He has now lost that application and the WCED will let the relevant processes run so as to enable a presiding officer to decide on the merits of the matter, based on the facts and the law in this regard,” added Hammond.

On Tuesday 27 October 2020, while Neumann’s application to interdict his disciplinary hearing was being heard in the labour court, there were many supporting him from the Heathfield High School Hall. Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) was also present saying that it would never not support one of its members.

Cosatu Western Cape  Provincial Secretary Malvern de Bruyn said he also had the union’s support because he showed concerned regarding the safety of his learners and teachers during the pandemic and lockdown.

The petition on Facebook reads; “We support Wesley Neumann in his fight against the WCED in their witch hunt against him. Mr Neumann was simply staying true to his principles and beliefs about the safety of the educators and learners during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

A message of solidarity was also posted to Neumann’s timeline on Facebook. It read; 

“We are with education activists at Heathfield High expressing solidarity with our young, dynamic and dedicated principal, a source of pride of our generation, Mr Wesley Neumann as we await the start of his virtual hearing in the Labour Court in light of the Western Cape government’s bullying and victimization of Mr Neumann as he fought for the safety of learners and equality as we pursue justice in education in our province,” it said. 

Neumann did not post anything on Facebook regarding the Labour Court’s decision on Monday. Hammond told The South African that the WCED was waiting for the outcome from the Labour Court to determine a date for the disciplinary hearing.

“We will now consult with his lawyers,” she said.