Newsletter 49 Jobs for Cash
JOBS-FOR-CASH “THE BEGINNING & THE END”
As we are ALL awaiting the final report - the clock is ticking and the countdown has begun. Messages from DBE is very clear that the report will be issued today. The City Press and its reporters have been very brave through all this and befitting this saga for now ends today and as the dust settles the real work to move forward in a constructive manner will begin. Purpletod will ensure teachers participate in that conversation.
City Press journalists Paddy Harper and Sipho Masondo won the 2014 Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism award for their work on misconduct within the South African Teachers Union (SADTU), writes Palesa Tshandu.
The story, which revealed how members of teachers union South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) were selling and buying posts at South Africa’s public schools, was honoured with the top prize of R200 000 at Johannesburg’s Rand Club yesterday.
Masondo said he and Harper spent over a year investigating the story and resisted attempts by SADTU to prevent them from publishing the story. “SADTU is a very powerful union and have tried in every possible way to bully us into stopping the story and we just kept going and it paid off,” said Masondo.
City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said she was proud of her team and described this story as particularly important. “This one explains a lot about our country and why despite the fact that they spend so many billions on education we don’t see the outcome. I was very keen on the story and it’s lovely it got recognised.”
City Press - Sadtu jobs-for-cash investigation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you’ve got R30 000 or more to donate, the teachers’ union has the job you’re looking for
- A promotions-for-cash racket run by members of teachers’ union Sadtu has led to scores of illegal appointments across the country – and even a murder.
- City Press can reveal that plum posts, including those of principal and deputy principal, are routinely sold for upwards of R30 000 each in KwaZulu-Natal.
- There are now investigations into the existence of similar rackets in Limpopo and North West.
- In at least two cases in KwaZulu-Natal, sitting principals were violently forced out of their posts and threatened with death.
- They were then replaced with candidates who they claim paid off union officials to take their jobs.
- One principal, who was too afraid for his name to be 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.”
- On Tuesday, Mfundi Sibiya (54) the KwaZulu-Natal education department’s Ugu (lower South Coast) district director, two principals and an ANC ward councillor were granted bail in the Umlazi Magistrates’ Court.
- They were arrested for allegedly ordering the murder of Nyon’emhlophe Primary School principal Nkosinathi Zondi (46).
- Zondi, the South Coast regional Sadtu chairperson, was shot five times, allegedly by hitmen Andile Zulu and Lungisani Makhoba, in his Umlazi home last May.
- Sibiya – a former Sadtu provincial secretary and ANC parliamentary candidate – allegedly ordered Zondi’s murder after he blew the whistle on alleged corruption Sibiya was involved in, which allegedly included the selling of tenders and senior positions.
- Sibiya was arrested earlier this month with his co-accused.
- During their first court appearance last week, investigating officer Xolani Mlungwana told the court Sandile Mzizi, the chairperson of the school governing body at the Khathi High School in Mthwalume, had organised the hit for Sibiya.
- Mzizi, who turned state witness, alleged the co-conspirators put together R12 000 for him to do so.
- A high-ranking Sadtu member in the Port Shepstone area told City Press Sibiya allegedly controlled the allocation of posts for candidates who had paid for jobs, and that school governing bodies were manipulated into recommending their appointment to the department.
- A senior education department official confirmed they were aware of this.
NOT JUST THE SOUTH COAST
- A Durban principal, whose identity and school name is being withheld as he fears for his life, told City Press 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.
- The principal, who retired last year, said he had been told by his fellow teachers his deputy “paid” for his job, which she wanted.
- “I was leaving the school for a meeting at about 1.30pm. As I drove up to the gate, there was a well-dressed, very respectable guy standing there. He waved me down and asked if I was me.
- “I said ‘yes’. He pulled out a gun and pointed it at my head. He told me to f**k off and not come back, and if I came back to work I would be killed. He said: ‘We don’t want to see you here. If you come back, we will kill you,’” the principal said.
- “I’ve been in education for 24 years but I have to find another way to earn a living. I had to leave. It was obvious I was going to be killed if I stayed in the job,” he said.
- “It’s an open secret in teaching that if you want a promotion post, you have to pay.”
- Cosatu, general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told City Press on Friday he learnt of the racket more than a year ago. Sadtu is an affiliate of Cosatu.
- “In November 2012 I wrote a letter to Sadtu secretary Mugwena Maluleke asking him to investigate allegations that senior Sadtu officials in KwaZulu-Natal were selling positions. But the investigation was not done,” said Vavi.
- Maluleke confirmed that “comrade Vavi” alerted him to the allegations.
- “The provincial executive committee investigated and submitted a report that cleared [the accused] of any wrongdoing. The allegations were part of a political campaign to destabilise the union in the province,” he said.
- Also in 2012, members of the National Teachers’ Union (Natu) protested in Durban against Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi’s alleged sale of a director position in the provincial education department for R100 000.
- Natu deputy president Alan Thompson said: “We marched in Durban and demanded that former premier Zweli Mkhize do something about it. He appointed retired Judge Vuka Tshabalala to probe the allegations. But I’m afraid the investigation never got off the ground.”
- Thompson said his union was now preparing to approach Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the matter.
- Mathonsi did not respond to numerous calls and messages requesting comment since Thursday.
- Muzi Mahlambi, the spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, said: “Anybody who has any information of this or any other kind of wrongdoing should come forward with it and we will investigate.”
- Meanwhile, the Limpopo education department said it has launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that principal, and circuit and district manager positions were being sold.
- Department spokesperson Pitsi Maloba said: “We have heard those allegations and there is an informal investigation. What comes out of there will inform us if we should probe further.”
- Maloba said the Sadtu chairman in the province, Ronald Moroatshehla, forwarded a list of six names to education MEC Dikeledi Magadzi demanding they be appointed to senior positions in circuit and district offices.
- City Press is in possession of the list, which includes one of Moroatshehla’s relatives. But it is not known whether any money changed hands for those jobs.
- Moroatshehla declined to comment this week.
- Maloba said: “We know about that list, they want us to appoint their brothers. We are going to run a free and fair process.”
- Magadzi, he said, would not be coerced “into doing wrong things” as those positions had not yet been filled.
- “We are engaging the Sadtu leadership about this.”
- Provincial Sadtu secretary Matome Raphasha said they were aware of the list but “we haven’t found time to investigate it yet”.
- He distanced Sadtu from Moroatshehla’s list, saying it wasn’t sanctioned by the union.
AND IN NORTH WEST...
- In North West, the education department appointed Nexus forensic services two years ago to investigate allegations Sadtu had irregularly influenced the appointment of officials to senior positions in the department’s Bojanala district.
- Provincial education spokesperson Brian Setswambung said the report found “Sadtu had influenced the appointment of senior officials”.
- The department, he said, is now conducting disciplinary hearings against its officials who were involved in what Setswambung labelled a “jobs scam”.
- He could not provide any further details.
- The acting director-general of the national basic education department, Panyaza Lesufi, said he was unaware of any racket.
- “Anyone with evidence that jobs are being sold, or that Sadtu was influencing recruitment processes, should approach the department,” he said, adding: “It is illegal and undesirable. We won’t tolerate it.”
- But Lesufi said the department was proposing it should exclusively handle the recruitment of principals and their deputies instead of school governing bodies.
- “What currently happens is that the governing bodies choose the principal and the deputy and then recommend to the department. We are saying the whole process should be done by the department. It will go a long way towards preventing such things.”
How the scam works
Why it matters
- A teacher who wants to land a promotion identifies the position they want.
- Typically, this is a job that they know the incumbent will soon be leaving, either because they are retiring or because they are resigning from the department.
- That teacher then approaches a local Sadtu official who they know to be involved in selling positions for cash, and hands over a minimum of R30 000.
- The Sadtu official then meets with members of the school governing body and department officials to rig the process.
- If the post is filled, the school governing body is used to agitate against the incumbent if necessary to force them out of the post.
- The school governing body then recommends the teacher who paid for that job to the selection panel.
- The selection panel, which contains paid-off officials from the department, then ratifies the governing body’s recommendation;
- The teacher gets the job.