Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
26 Jan 2019
6:20 am

Teachers’ union members want own probe into missing millions

Sipho Mabena

It is estimated the Saou lost more than R500 million, including assets, in an alleged fraudulent scheme dating back to 2000.

File image.

Concerned members of the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (Saou) have offered to pay for an independent forensic probe into fraud, corruption and money laundering claims amounting to millions of rands against the union’s executives.

It is estimated that the union lost more than R500 million, including assets, in the alleged fraudulent scheme dating back to 2000.

The members have dismissed an investigation conducted by the union, which cleared its top brass of any wrongdoing. It was conducted by retired judge Willie Hartzenberg and was seen as a whitewash.

In a letter sent to Saou lawyers from lawyers acting on behalf of the concerned members, the members offered to pay for an independent forensic investigation to put the matter to rest.

Members state that Saou has raised the issue of funding when called to institute a probe into the allegations, hence they have offered to bankroll the probe if their claims are found to be without any merit and the executives accused of corruption are cleared of wrongdoing.

“If, however, results of the forensic audit are such our clients’ allegations are proven to be well-founded, then clearly, Saou itself must bear the costs ….” the letter to Saou stated.

Saou lawyers Erasmus Incorporated had until last Tuesday to respond to the offer, failure to which the members threatened to approach “relevant forum for appropriate relief”.

Erasmus acknowledged receipt of the proposal but dared the members to take further steps.

The police’s elite crime-busting unit, the Hawks, are also investigating the explosive claims, zooming in on the SA Education Foundation (Saef), one of the entities marred in allegations of a scheme to fleece Saou.

The Citizen had previously reported that the union was renting its head office in Garsfontein, Pretoria, from Saef, though the building was previously owned by the Transvaalse Onderwysvereniging, which later became Saou.

Saou president Louis Swanepoel and general secretary Chris Klopper, listed as managing director in the foundation’s 2017 financial statements, are among the seven people listed in the foundation’s constitution as “first management”.

Members, in sworn statements to the Hawks, have claimed union funds were diverted to Saef, then channelled into Finsa (Pty) Ltd and to TO Onderlikke Mpy (Pty) Ltd in the form of loans, rent and management fees.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.