‘It happened to us’: Teachers speak out about dodgy union dealings

2014-05-04 15:00

City Press received calls and emails this week from senior teachers across the country who alleged Sadtu interference in appointments. Here are some of their stories:

North West

Aprincipal from the North West town of Vryburg, who asked that her name be withheld as she fears for her life, is begging her bosses for a transfer because she says Sadtu members are threatening to kill her if she does not leave.

The principal wrote to North West education department superintendent-general Itumeleng Molale saying Sadtu wanted to replace her with her deputy principal who is the union’s local branch secretary.

The principal who has been booked off since February with depression, told City Press: “Let me rather go than die for a position. I have received anonymous calls from people threatening me, asking me to leave the school. I now want to be transferred, I can’t lose my life over a position.”

The principal said Sadtu, in collusion with the school governing body (SGB), wanted her replaced with her deputy principal whom she said was “shoved down her throat by the SGB and the circuit office” and was “parachuted from being an ordinary teacher to being a deputy principal”.

However, a former chairperson of the SGB denied her allegations, labelling her a “dictator”.

The deputy is now acting principal even though she appointed the other deputy principal to act on her behalf while she was on sick leave. Her SGB and the circuit office vetoed her decision and now the other deputy is off sick too.

A senior official in the department said he was aware of the case.

“It is sitting with us. We know they want her out because they want to put a candidate of their own choice. We are dealing with it.”

Gauteng

Nundlall Sookdeyu, the former deputy principal of the former Model C Witkoppen Primary School in western Johannesburg, was physically thrown out of his school by Sadtu members who wanted someone else in his job.

Sookdeyu’s woes began after he landed the deputy principal job in 2010.

“When I arrived at the school, the reception was very cold. After a few weeks, the principal came to me and told me that Sadtu was not happy with my appointment. He said they wanted somebody else appointed to my position.”

Sookdeyu said he stuck it out until November of that year when a number of Sadtu-affiliated teachers stormed into the computer room where he was working on his laptop and assaulted him.

“They frog-marched me out of the school, saying I was causing trouble for them.”

He reported the matter to the district office where officials ordered him to return to school.

“But it was not possible. When I returned, I found a lot of Sadtu members waiting for me at the gate and they refused me entry.”

This had caused him a great deal of stress and depression and led to him being medically boarded.

Gauteng education spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane said she knew about the case.

“An investigation was conducted and it could not be concluded that he was frog-marched out of the school. The investigation did, however, find that there were generally poor relations between Sookdeyu and the school.”

Mpumalanga

In 2012, teachers at the Likazi Primary School outside Nelspruit were up in arms after they discovered how their principal, Jabu Mhlongo, was appointed.

Five years before, he had been transferred from the Mpatleng Secondary School in Botshabelo, Free State, at about the same time that his wife, Nomsa, was transferred from a Gauteng primary school to the nearby Thandulwazi Primary School.

She was also appointed principal of the school. Both positions were not advertised and neither were the Mhlongos interviewed for their jobs.

According to department policy, a teacher can only be transferred if the school where he or she wants to work has a teacher who is willing to swap positions. This was not the case with the Mhlongos.

A Sadtu official in Mpumalanga said their appointment could well have been irregular.

“How else do you explain these sort of moves? It is well known that people pay up to R20?000 for transfers.”

However, Jabu Mhlongo said he did not pay for his post.

“I requested a transfer, I don’t know why it was not advertised. I don’t know HR processes and procedures and I did not pay anything for the position. These sort of transfers happen all the time.”

Nomsa Mhlongo said there was nothing irregular about her appointment.

“If you want a transfer, you just apply. There was nothing odd about it and I never paid anyone.”

Departmental spokesperson Jasper Zwane said he was still waiting for the district in question to tell him exactly what had happened.

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