SOME 15 000 non-striking Eastern Cape teachers are finally going to be reimbursed, almost a year after their salaries were docked as part of a “blanket” punishment by the Education Department.

These teachers, who did not take part in the crippling national teacher strike in August and September last year, are still owed more than R50-million by the department, despite numerous promises of reimbursement.

The deductions were made in February and March this year, and some teachers lost more than half their salaries.

DA education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said, after a meeting with department superintendent-general Modidima Mannya this week, the department agreed to pay the teachers this month.

In an education portfolio committee meeting in July, the department agreed to reimburse the teachers by September, but this never happened.

Trevor Roman, principal of the Northern Lights School in Cotswold, Port Elizabeth, said he was “glad to hear the news”. About R7 000 was deducted from his salary, which led to him financially “playing catch-up” ever since.

He had to approach his creditors to make arrangements for late payments and struggled to pay his children’s school and university fees.

Roman said he was still not “totally convinced” that they would receive their money this year, but he was hopeful.

The department earlier agreed it would reimburse the non-striking teachers later in the year, but many feared this undertaking would not be honoured because soon after the deductions were made, the department was placed under administration.

The administration process began in February following the collapse of service delivery, the dismissal of about 6 000 temporary teachers, problems with the school nutrition programme, non-delivery of textbooks and stationery and the suspension of pupil transport.

“The department can’t blame us for having our doubts,” said one teacher who did not want to be named.

Van Vuuren said he was elated that a decision had been made to resolve the matter, but added the department should have done it “a long time ago”.