Behind the City Press Sadtu jobs-for-cash investigation

2014-06-05 11:27

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City Press has been inundated with calls from teachers and officials who have fallen foul of the cash-for-posts racket run by members of teachers’ union, Sadtu.

The first article of the series, on page 1 of April 27, detailed the murder of Sadtu member and whistle-blower principal Nkosinathi Zondi, who was allegedly killed after exposing corruption in the ranks of the union and the local education department.

We spoke to other principals in the province who told us that principals’ posts were being sold for more than R30 000 each.

One principal, who was too afraid to have his name published, said: “When this thing started in the late 1990s, they were demanding around R11 000 for a promotion post. Now it starts at R30 000.”

The man, with nearly 20 years’ experience, who recently resigned, added: “It’s very prevalent. Sadtu is running the department here because it’s them who say who gets what posts.”

The racket, however, was not restricted to KwaZulu-Natal and Sadtu members in other provinces have also allegedly been selling positions.

In just over a month, our investigation revealed:

One dead principal

» KwaZulu-Natal: Nyon’emhlophe Primary School principal Nkosinathi Zondi (46) was murdered last May allegedly for blowing the whistle on corruption in which Sadtu members were involved, including the cash-for-jobs racket.

In court for his murder are Mfundi Sibiya, a member of the Sadtu PEC and the KwaZulu-Natal education department’s Ugu (lower South Coast) district director.

Sibiya is charged with murder with two school principals who are also Sadtu members, a former principal and ANC ward councillor, and two hitmen.

Two kidnapped principals

» Mpumalanga: An acting principal in Ogies, Mpumalanga, was tied up, drugged and left for dead in a forest to stop her from attending an interview for the principal’s job at her school late last year.

Bajabulile Mtshali, acting principal at the WCCM Primary School, said: “He [her kidnapper] told me that he had been paid to kill me so that I didn’t get to become the principal. He said he had been looking for me for a few days. He said SA Democratic Teachers’ Union [Sadtu] officials had paid him R10 000, but he didn’t tell me any names. He said if I give him R5 000, he wouldn’t kill me. I didn’t have the money, so he demanded my bank card, PIN number and my phone,” she said.

» KwaZulu-Natal: Kaise Ngcobo, acting principal of Waterloo Primary in Verulam, arrived for work on Friday morning two weeks ago and was kidnapped at the school gates by three armed men in a white BMW.

She got the job of principal at her school last year, but Sadtu opposed her appointment and the hiring process was reopened. She was left on a roadside in nearby Phoenix and her kidnappers told her she would be killed if she came back to work.

She still hasn’t returned because she is traumatised by what had happened. Her governing body thinks she is the right candidate for the job and is very worried about the safety of staff and pupils at the school.

Threatened principals

» KwaZulu-Natal: An experienced principal from Durban was forced to retire after he was threatened with death. He was confronted at his school gate in 2010 by an armed man who told him he would be killed if he returned to work. He had been told by his fellow teachers that his deputy had “paid” for his job, which she wanted.

» North West: A principal from Vryburg 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.

Questionable appointments

» Eastern Cape: A founder-member of Sadtu was appointed principal of a Port Elizabeth primary school. He was not appropriately qualified for the position but still beat 98 other properly qualified candidates for the job.

» Mpumalanga: After Sadtu protested against Bushbuckridge regional education director Shamba Mtembu, he was removed from his post by the KZN education MEC and HOD. In the six months after his removal, there were a number of dodgy appointments of underqualified individuals. These included:

» A school HOD who was parachuted into the position of chief education specialist by jumping three post levels;

» A junior teacher who became a deputy director of labour in the department;

» Another HOD who was parachuted into the post of deputy curriculum education specialist, skipping five levels;

» Four junior teachers, who were appointed as principals in the Bushbuckridge area; and

» Another teacher, who allegedly failed an assessment and was appointed director of labour in place of a candidate who had done well in the assessment and during interviews.

Bribe asked

» Gauteng: Free State University education lecturer Nhlanhla Sebele told City Press that two years ago, a senior member of the Soweto North branch of Sadtu tried to solicit a bribe from him in exchange for a principal’s job in the township. The man said he needed money when Sebele gave him his application form. “I asked him if I could give him R5 000. He said it was too little as the money had to be shared by many other people.” Sebele said: “Here I was with a doctorate in education and I was asked to pay for a principal’s position.”

Job for sex

» Gauteng: Peace Mokiti, the Sadtu Soweto North secretary, allegedly asked for sex from a Gauteng teacher in exchange for a principal’s post. Another teacher is also accusing him of demanding a “deposit” bribe to help him land the job of deputy principal at a primary school, which he did not get.

Mokiti also threatened to assault City Press reporter Sipho Masondo, saying: “If you ever publish my name, I will beat you up very badly and cause too much trouble for you.” When he was contacted again, he refused to comment and said: “I am consulting my lawyers.” Mokiti is suing City Press for defamation for the amount of R1.5 million. We are defending the action and stand by our story.

And …

Scores of teachers have told us how they lost out to senior Sadtu members for promotional posts because they could not or would not pay for jobs.

We will continue our investigation.

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