An order for the department of health to reinstate Dr Sirajul Islam who was ‘grossly and unfairly dismissed’ as a chief medical officer at Komani Hospital in 2012 has been handed down.
According to the court order, the dispute dated back to August 21, 2012 when Dr Islam was booked off duty by a specialist psychiatrist from that day to September 20, 2012. It was stated that a medical certificate was faxed to the chief executive officer (CEO) of Komani Hospital. The document indicated that Dr Islam resumed his duties on either September 20 or 24, 2012. The chief executive officer of the hospital reportedly issued him with a letter discharging him from public service, with claims that he had absconded for more than 30 days without notifying his supervisor or management of his whereabouts.
He challenged the dismissal and, in his submission, Dr Islam stated that the department was unreasonable for refusing to reinstate him and there was no proof, according to information on which this decision was based, that he absented himself from work for one calendar month. He further indicated that the decision was based on “factually incorrect” information.
The court order further read: “The medical certificate was forwarded [to CEO] as employees usually do when they have been booked off by their doctors. If there were queries about the medical certificate, she had a duty to raise them with either the applicant or his doctor. When the medical certificate was faxed, she did not challenge its validity. The respondents also provided no valid grounds for alleging that it was falsified.”
After eight years out of practise, Dr Islam said he had suffered a great deal in having to come to terms with the dismissal. “The negative impact and damage that this has caused. My daughter could not be enrolled in medical school, I could not practise in any institution. My furniture was looted. I had to sell my properties, my inheritance. It is painful. I have been practising since 1991 and I have had a positive and meaningful contribution. Now to be treated with such injustice,” said an obviously emotional Dr Islam in an interview with The Rep reporter.
“The applicant is reinstated in his former or any other appropriate position on terms not less favourable than those which governed his employment at the time of the termination of his services. The period of the applicant’s absence from official duty shall be deemed to be absence on vacation leave without pay. No remuneration is due to the applicant in terms of the reinstatement order. The first respondent is ordered to pay the applicant’s costs,” read the judgement.
However, Dr Islam has indicated that despite the judgement being handed-down and circulated to all relevant parties on March 31, 2021, there has been no instruction or direction as to when he will be reporting for duty.
Provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the department had been in contact with the affected official and internal processes were being followed to reinstate the employee.