The case of two kidnapped principals

2014-05-11 15:01

A teacher in 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.

Bajabulile Mtshali, acting principal at the Wccm Primary School in Ogies, near Emalahleni, says she can’t stop thanking God for sparing her life.

At home in Phola, outside the town, Mtshali said the job became vacant in March 2012 and the circuit office appointed her as the acting principal.

“I applied for the position. It later came to my attention that my name was not short-listed for interviews and I lodged a dispute. The district office refused to entertain it and I threatened them with court action. I wanted to know why I wasn’t short-listed. And they decided to stop the process.”

The post was advertised again in May last year and Mtshali applied again. But then she was kidnapped on the eve of the interview by a man who offered her a lift from her brother’s home.

“He 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.

She claims the man tied her up with her jersey and forced her to drink a concoction allegedly containing brake fluid and dagga. She woke up in the early hours of the next morning and made her way to the main road, where a truck driver picked her up.

The police traced the kidnapper, Themba Msibi, and charged him with abduction and extortion.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala confirmed a case was opened, but said: “The docket was misplaced at some point, but it was reinstated at the Witbank Regional Court.” The case continues.

Interviews for the principal’s position were conducted again in October last year, but the official who collected the documents for the department was hijacked and they were never handed over.

Mpumalanga education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said: “A principal will be appointed before the end of May.”

He declined to say if Mtshali would get the job. Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the case should be investigated.


The acting principal of a Durban primary school was abducted from work by armed men and dumped on the roadside in a bid to intimidate her into leaving her job.

The school’s governing body said that when Kaise Ngcobo arrived for work on Friday morning, she was kidnapped at the gates of Waterloo Primary School in Verulam, north of the city, by three armed men in a white BMW.

Ngcobo, who has taught at the 1?300-pupil school since 2002 and became its deputy principal last July, was left at the roadside in nearby Phoenix unharmed. She was allegedly told that she would be killed if she came back to Waterloo Primary.

In a statement, the school’s governing body said Ngcobo was appointed as the acting head after principal Duncan Dube retired. During interviews for the job, the panel recommended her as the best out of five candidates. In November, the provincial education department confirmed the decision.

But then members of the local branch of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) objected and the appointment was set aside. Officials from the department of education’s Pinetown circuit reopened the selection process. The school’s governing body claims, however, that they were threatened by officials at meetings last month.

“Within three weeks and two days after the elections, the acting principal was abducted and threatened not to return to her post as acting principal of the school,” the statement said.

“We have lots of questions. Is this Mafia-type action condoned by the department of education? Does the department of education have the will to stand up to Sadtu and protect the life of their principal, or is the department in cahoots with Sadtu?’’

The school’s governing body has called a meeting of parents and residents for tomorrow and plans to go to court to force the department to take action.

Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi was not immediately available for comment.

The chair of the school’s governing body, Fana Sibiya, said they were outraged. “We are very saddened. Everyone is scared. We think the department should provide us with security. Teachers and pupils’ lives are now at risk. We keep asking ourselves who is next.”

He said the governing body was convinced the kidnapping was related to the principal’s position. The police did not respond to requests for comment.

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