Jobs-for-cash scam: Money, murder and maths

2015-11-30 06:00
A photo of Thokozani Mkhwanazi is displayed at his funeral service at the Empangeni Civic Centre

PHOTO: Zululand Observer / Steven Makhanya

A photo of Thokozani Mkhwanazi is displayed at his funeral service at the Empangeni Civic Centre PHOTO: Zululand Observer / Steven Makhanya

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Thokozani Mkhwanazi was gunned down at his high school on November 11 after he became the frontrunner for the position of headmaster at a nearby primary school.

The popular maths and science teacher, and deputy principal of Nomyaca Secondary School in Eshowe, was shot by two hit men in the school parking lot in front of his pupils and colleagues.

Mkhwanazi, who was buried last weekend, is the latest victim of the jobs-for-cash scam exposed by City Press last year. The scam has become increasingly deadly, with two teachers killed since August in hits ordered by others who want their jobs.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga appointed a team headed by Professor John Volmink to investigate the scam.

In the wake of Mkhwanazi’s murder, Volmink’s investigators and KwaZulu-Natal education officials are investigating the sales of several posts. These include a teaching job allegedly sold by a senior leader of teachers’ union Sadtu for R17 000.

Backdating and bribes

Jabulani Zwane – principal of Chatsworth’s Dumisani Makhaye Secondary and local Sadtu branch secretary – is being investigated for allegedly forging and backdating documents to employ a teacher from whom he later allegedly demanded a R17 000 bribe.

Teacher Sifiso Zondi complained to officials that Zwane had his salary backdated by two months.

After Zondi was paid, Zwane demanded “some of” the money, saying it “had to go to some of the people who arranged the position” for him.

A senior official at the province’s education head office in Pietermaritzburg, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We are investigating a case of fraud and bribery. It is clear that the state was used to pay for the position.”

In his complaint statement to the department, obtained by City Press, Zondi said he had taught at Dumisani Makhaye in 2009. After he was paid, Zwane told him at a meeting in Durban to hand over a chunk of the money.

“My first withdrawal from that payment was R10 000, but I gave him R9 000 on that day. After a few days, we met again and I gave him R8 000,” he said in the statement. Zondi confirmed the contents of his statement to City Press.

Zwane confirmed that Zondi taught at his school, but denied backdating his contract or taking a bribe. He said: “I never took anything from him. I do not do those things.”

However, the department is investigating Zwane in connection with another case in which he allegedly sneaked in an application for a teacher who had not applied for a head of department position at Savannah Park Primary in Chatsworth. Documents City Press has seen reveal that the teacher who got the job never applied for it.

Zwane denied this, saying: “I was just the resource person. I don’t do such things. That position went for arbitration and the complainant failed ... The department is investigating what happened.”

How to get rid of a principal

The department and Volmink’s team are also investigating a school governing body member of Entuthukweni Primary in Lamontville for inciting a teachers’ strike to try to get rid of the principal.

The man was allegedly paid R10 000 by a teacher who wanted to be the school’s new headmaster.

School governing body members sit in on interviews and recommend who the department should hire.

In a letter from Entuthukweni Primary’s school governing body, which City Press has obtained, the man is accused of selling the principal’s job and a head of department position at the same school for R5 000.

“[He] received R10 000 from another teacher whom he had promised to appoint as principal. But the department appointed somebody else. Now the teacher who paid is demanding her money back because the position has been given to somebody else,” says the letter a parent sent to the department.

“Myself and other teachers are saddened by this. It is disturbing our children from their studies. Other teachers have been promised heads of department positions and we hear they have paid R5 000 each. As parents, we are tired of [him] selling positions.”

The man denied selling posts or being aware of any investigation.

Post-fixing parties

The department is also investigating job sales at Insizwakazi Primary in Pinetown. It wrote to school governing body members informing them of a probe into allegations that some people received bribes to fix posts and had attended a party to discuss it.

A whistle-blower on the school governing body wrote to the department, saying that after they were elected in February, some of them went to a former teacher’s house for a braai and a post-fixing discussion.

“One of the school’s former teachers who was present on the day paid ... some money for the principal position. On that day, the former teacher took money out of his pocket and gave it to [him],” reads the letter.

“The teacher said he is excited that the school governing body has won the elections because it means he will be able to come back to the school.”

The man denied taking bribes or fixing posts.

“How can you sell positions that you don’t have? Positions belong to the department. People who saw me taking bribes must come forward to testify. They can also check my bank statements. I am free. I have nothing to hide,” he said.

He was aware of the department’s investigation into him and other school governing body members.

Murder of a maths teacher

Eshowe police spokesperson Captain Tienkie van Vuuren said there was a possibility that Mkhwanazi’s murder was linked to his interview for the post of principal at Enqobeni Primary.

“He was sitting in his vehicle in the schoolyard when he was approached by two unknown suspects. They fired two shots at him, pulled him from the car and fired another two shots. They then drove away with his vehicle,” she said. “He was still alive and was taken to the Ndlangubo Clinic for treatment, where he died.”

KwaZulu-Natal education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi confirmed that Mkhwanazi was the frontrunner for the post. “We are working with police to ascertain the motive so that we become aware and know what steps to take to prevent such occurrences in future.”

By the numbers

R17 000: What a teaching job at Dumisani Makhaye Secondary in Chatsworth was allegedly sold for

R10 000: What a principal’s job at Entuthukweni Primary in Lamontville was allegedly sold for

R5 000: What a head of department position at Entuthukweni Primary in Lamontville was allegedly sold for

Do you know anyone who bought their teaching post?SMS your thoughts to 35697 using the keyword TEACH. Each SMS costs R1.50. Please include your name and province

Read more on:    sadtu  |  jobs for cash

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