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SACE ‘told to drop jobs-for-cash investigation’

2015-07-12 15:00

An investigation by the SA Council for Educators (SACE) has found no evidence that teaching and administrative positions in the department of basic education were ever bought or sold.

But a highly placed source at the council said executives at the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) demanded that the investigation be stopped after hearing that names of senior union leaders in branches, regions and provinces were coming up in connection with the alleged jobs-for-cash scam.

In October last year, the SACE, which is the teachers’ regulatory body, and the department of basic education launched two separate investigations into allegations that Sadtu officials were selling teaching and administrative positions. Principals’ posts were allegedly being sold for R30 000.

The investigation was sparked by a City Press investigation that revealed that the powerful teacher union had captured the department of basic education, demanding cash, sex or livestock in return for teaching and senior administrative posts.

The reports also revealed that union members, in cahoots with the department’s administrative staff, manipulated recruitment processes to ensure that its members, many of whom did not have necessary qualifications and experience, were appointed to senior positions. These senior positions also include circuit managers, subject and curriculum advisers, education specialists and district directors.

While the department of basic education’s investigation is yet to complete its own probe, SACE CEO Rej Brijraj said it had finished its work, and nothing was found.

“We spent four months investigating. There was a very strong rumour that persisted, but we couldn’t find a single bit of evidence. The rumours were strong, but no evidence or witnesses were brought forward for us to prosecute. We were given leads, but they yielded nothing and we had to stop,” Brijraj said.

CITY PRESS’ REPORTS FOUND THAT:

. Teaching, heads of department and principal jobs were sold for anything between R6 500 and R30 000.

. Circuit manager, education specialist, curriculum and subject adviser jobs fetched anything up to R30 000.

. Prospective principals were kidnapped and nearly killed in an effort to intimidate them, and force them to leave their schools.

. Sadtu officials manipulated recruitment processes to favour the union’s senior leaders.

. Union members solicited sex in exchange for jobs.

. Union members received cows, sheep and goats in exchange for jobs.

. A union member in Limpopo committed suicide after failing to secure two principal positions for two candidates.

However, a source within the SACE, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told City Press that Sadtu’s executives approached the council’s chief operating officer, Tsedi Dipholo, and asked her to drop the investigation after the names of the union’s leaders in branches, regions and provinces started cropping up.

“After they [the investigators] visited Mpumalanga, Tsedi told them that she had been instructed to stop the investigation until further notice. The team has written reports, but I never heard that they were ever presented anywhere,” the source said.

The SACE’s team visited KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. The source said Sadtu asked Dipholo, the union’s former education vice-president, to tell the SACE council that the investigation “was ongoing”.

On Wednesday, Dipholo told City Press that the investigation had not been stopped and that it was “ongoing”, contradicting Brijraj, who said the probe had been completed.

“Soon we will meet with the team from the department of basic education to brief them on what we found,” she said.

The SACE is dominated by Sadtu members. Sadtu president Lucas Maphila is the SACE’s chair, while Brijraj is the union’s former media convener. A handful of the SACE’s councillors are also Sadtu members.

Brijraj, however, denied that Sadtu had bullied the council into stopping the investigation.

The source told City Press that Kenneth Geza, chairperson of the investigating team, withdrew from the probe in December when it had barely got off the ground.

“He only went to KwaZulu-Natal, and he started giving excuses that he was busy,” the source said.

Geza confirmed that he only went to KwaZulu-Natal: “I excused myself for personal reasons. But the work is continuing. I was told that there would be a meeting with the team from the department of basic education. I know nothing about our work being stopped by Sadtu.”

Brijraj said there is nothing wrong with investigators withdrawing from a task team.

“It’s the first time that I hear that he has withdrawn. Anyway, people withdraw for different reasons. Remember, they volunteered their services with us – they are full-time employees of other companies.”

Yesterday evening, the Sadtu secretariat issued a statement accusing City Press of being “on a warpath to demonise” the union.

“Their latest salvo, which is due to be published tomorrow [today], is a baseless report that Sadtu has issued an instruction to the SACE [the SA Council for Educators] to stop an independent investigation into the jobs-for-cash scam,” it said.

“In May last year, the national working committee of Sadtu issued a statement whereby we stated that we had approached the SACE, as the custodian of the teaching profession and education labour relations ... to conduct investigations on jobs-for-cash reports, jointly or independently,” the statement said.

“We asked these bodies to investigate these reports, not to protect Sadtu, but out of the respect we have for them and the teaching profession. No one, including Sadtu, can issue instructions to the SACE to stop its investigation.”

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August 19 2018