Whistleblower takes on education department
A Durban teacher who blew the whistle about how he paid a top provincial official from teachers’ union Sadtu R12 000 for a teaching post is about to lose his home after not being paid for the past five months.
Nkonzwenhle Mqadi (48), who claims his salary was stopped in retaliation for his failure to keep up monthly R1 000 payments to Sadtu provincial sports and recreation coordinator Thembekile Makhanya, is also battling to treat his diabetes because his medical aid has been stopped. Now, Mqadi is approaching the Education Labour Relations Council to declare a dispute with the KwaZulu-Natal education department in a bid to be paid and get back to work, after months of meetings with senior department officials.
He also gave evidence to investigators from the Volmink commission, headed by Professor John Volmink and appointed by department of basic education minister Angie Motshekga in response to a City Press exposé of the union’s jobs-for-cash scam nearly two years ago.
In November, Mqadi told City Press how he allegedly paid Makhanya for a transfer to Sophie Phewa Primary School at Folweni, which falls under the department’s Umlazi circuit.
He paid her R1 000 a month for the job, but when he stopped paying a year later, his salary was allegedly stopped illegally and he had to leave the school because of threats to his life.
He was reinstated, but his job was given to someone else and his salary was stopped for a second time last year.
“I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” Mqadi said this week. “I have not been paid my salary for five months.
“My policies and investments have all lapsed. I am in danger of losing my home and my health is failing. I am diabetic and need medical aid to pay for my treatment.
“My debit orders have failed for five months and my finances are a mess. I really don’t know what to do next.”
Mqadi said he had not only met with Volmink’s investigators, but had “held meetings with senior officials from the [education] department and the office of the premier”.
“I have laid criminal charges and followed all the proper channels, but I am being punished for coming out and telling the truth.
“I cannot go and work at Sophie Phewa or anywhere else in Umbumbulu because there have been a series of threats to my life. I have been told that I will be killed if I report to work there. I fear for my life. “All I want to do is go back to work and teach. “I was assured by the head of human resources that I would be paid in the December 22 salary run, which was used to pay markers and bonuses,” he said, “but nothing, has come of that.”
He said he is now forced to approach the Education Labour Relations Council for a condonation hearing, allowing him to declare a dispute with the department for unfair labour practice and constructive dismissal.
Earlier this week Mqadi spent a day giving evidence to senior officials from regulatory body the SA Council for Educators, including its head of legal affairs George Moroasui, about how he had paid for the post and which union and departmental officials had been involved.
On Thursday, Mqadi received a letter from the department instructing him to report for duty at the Umbumbulu circuit office so his placement at Enkanyisweni Primary School in Umbumbulu could be “facilitated”.
Education department spokesperson Sicelo Khuzwayo said Mqadi’s salary would be paid once he was “formally attached to a school”.
“We cannot pay a person who has not been working. We are doing our best to ensure that the issues regarding his salary are addressed in an equitable manner and that the educator gets back to work,” said Khuzwayo.
He said the alleged illegal removal of Mqadi from the payroll and the job-for-cash scam were being investigated.
“What happens next will depend on the outcome of that investigation. The investigation does not mean that the educator cannot resume duties and will not be further inconvenienced in the interim,” he said.