Jobs for cash racket: judicial inquiry on the cards

2014-05-04 15:00

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has asked President Jacob Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into teacher union Sadtu’s alleged jobs for cash racket.

On Friday night, Motshekga met President Jacob Zuma to discuss the scam exposed last week by City Press, which she says is threatening the country’s education system.

Tomorrow, she will meet the presidency’s legal advisers to work out how the inquiry, which she wants wrapped up in a few months, will work and what powers it will have.

Motshekga told City Press yesterday that she and the president were “taken aback’’ by the revelations about the racket in which plum posts are sold for more than R30?000 each.

She said she was “appalled’’ by reports of principals being forced out of schools at gunpoint and replaced by candidates who had paid bribes to Sadtu officials working in the provincial education departments.

“We are taking these allegations extremely seriously. The school is the centrepiece of our education system. The whole education sector is dependent on schools and how they are run and managed.

“We need to look after our people, our teachers and our principals. If they are not safe to do their work and conduct the business of educating learners, then we have to act,” she said.

“I had spoken to officials in the presidency last week but I spoke to the president about this in person on Friday night when I had a chance to see him.

“He told me he was also taken aback by the report and that we have to act and deal with it immediately.”

Motshekga said that after this week’s consultations, she would ensure that the commission sat as soon as possible after elections.

“If the reports are true and principals are being forced out of schools with a gun at their heads and told not to come back, then we have a very dangerous situation on our hands which cannot be allowed to continue.”

She also said it was likely that witnesses who came forward would have to be afforded protection because of the dangers they faced in exposing the racket.

“The people who come forward need to be reassured that they are safe and comfortable to give evidence,” she said.

“We can’t have a situation where potential witnesses are targeted by the people they are giving evidence against.”

Motshekga said a way would have to be found to involve the unions in the probe as accusations were levelled against them and their members. It was, she said, in their interests to do so.

“I am sure that Sadtu will also want to do what is necessary to deal with this problem and the challenge to their integrity as an organisation,” she said.

After failing to comment for two weeks, Sadtu KZN provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi referred City Press to Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke for comment, but said the story was “nonsense”.

“What do you want now? Haven’t you written enough of your nonsense about my organisation,” he said.

Maluleke welcomed the proposed judicial commission of inquiry and added that the union had asked the SA Council of Educators (Sace) and the Education Labour Relations Council to investigate allegations that Sadtu members were involved in the jobs scam.

“If the profession is under attack by this type of conduct, it is the responsibility of the Sace to probe,” he said.

The union, he said, had not sanctioned the selling of positions.

“It is individuals who do it. We are calling for people to bring forward evidence,” said Maluleke.

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