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Teacher fired for pro-Israel status heads to labour court



Pretoria teacher Sudesh Mooloo’s life was turned upside down in May 2021 when he wrote a WhatsApp status saying, “I’m not anti-Palestine. I’m anti-Hamas. I stand with Israel.” After teaching Afrikaans, social science, and creative arts at Laudium Secondary School (LSS) for 25 years, he was fired the next day for expressing these views.

He also received death threats, family members turned their backs on him, and his children were victimised. But as a Christian with strongly-held beliefs, he never gave up hope, and decided to fight back.

“His employer – the school – terminated his employment,” says labour lawyer Tzvi Brivik, the attorney on record and the chairperson of the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

“As is required by labour-law regulation, the dispute was first referred to the CCMA [the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration] as an unfair dismissal. It remained unresolved. Our client alleges that his employer failed to respect or promote his religious beliefs and personal opinions. These alleged underlying reasons for the termination of his employment fall within the ambit of the Employment Equity Act and as such, the dispute must be determined by a judge sitting in the labour court. The respondent, namely the school, has disputed the allegations, and we now prepare for trial”.

Mooloo says this development is positive in his fight for justice. “I’m happy that the matter will no longer be with the CCMA but with a higher authority – the labour courts.” The case will probably be heard in February or March 2022.

“My name is tarnished at the bank because last year, I took out a loan to buy a car and I couldn’t pay for four months when I was unemployed after being dismissed at LSS,” he says. “The bank wants to hand me over. Because of all of this, I’m expecting them to pay me a lump sum. They must pay for not following something as simple as procedure. They must pay for coming up against my religious beliefs. They must pay!”

Mooloo says he’s grateful to the South African Jewish community for its support while he hasn’t been able to earn a salary.

In the meantime, he’s helping out (but isn’t employed) at a very small Christian school. “I love it at this school, and I would never want to return to LSS,” he says.

At the end of July, a donation toward planting trees in the Tzorah Forest, Jerusalem, was made in Mooloo’s name by the South African Friends of Israel “in recognition of his bravery and strong moral conviction in supporting Israel”.

“I have received the biggest honour ever,” said an emotional Mooloo, sharing the news with the SA Jewish Report at the time. “My stand wasn’t in vain.”

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