Union boss in citizenship row
Zim national faces deportation
GAUTENG secretary for the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Gift Ndwandwe, has allegedly gone to ground following shocking news that he fraudulently obtained a South African citizenship.
An investigation carried out by the Department of Home Affairs into the legality of Ndwandwe’s citizen status revealed that he was a Zimbabwean national.
Yesterday, it was still not clear whether the department immigration officials had already deported him to his home country.
The outcome of a probe into Ndwandwe’s citizenship status was communicated to the union’s offices in Braamfontein on Wednesday.
This week, some union colleagues said they were in the dark about Ndwandwe’s whereabouts, saying he had not been seen at work since the news regarding his illegal stay in the country was made known.
Attempts by the Pretoria News to contact him were unsuccessful as his cellphone was switched off.
A union leader, who didn’t want to be identified, said a meeting would be convened by Monday to discuss the implications of Ndwandwe’s disappearance.
According to an insider, the meeting would first be held by provincial executive committee members.
The contact said another meeting was expected to be initiated by leaders at the national office to give direction on how the matter should be handled.
National union deputy general secretary Zacharia Mosothoane downplayed claims regarding Ndwandwe’s alleged disappearance. Mosothoane said he had not personally tried to contact him since he’d learnt about the matter.
He promised to ascertain his whereabouts yesterday when he visited the Braamfontein office.
“I haven’t checked on him, but I’ll be going to the provincial office about what is happening there,” he said.
The letter sent to the union described Ndwandwe as “a prohibited person”, who didn’t “qualify for a visa, admission into the Republic, a temporary residence or a permanent residence permit”.
In terms of the letter, the department undertook to deport him to his country of origin. Union leaders were instructed by Home Affairs to terminate Ndwandwe’s contract with immediate effect.
Attempts to get comment from the department’s spokesperson, Thabo Mokgoba, about whether the deportation had already taken place or not drew a blank.
In 2015, Ndwandwe was elected as the union secretary following the cold-blooded killing of former secretary Chris Nkosi, who was shot in Germiston.
Ndwandwe’s ascension to the union’s higher rank was concluded amid much displeasure from some party members, who questioned his abilities to grasp union issues.
The controversy surrounding his legal status in the country emerged three months after the national union’s general secretary, Zenzo Mahlangu, was deported to Zimbabwe for being in the country without necessary permits.
Ndwandwe used to be Mahlangu’s bodyguard and head of union security before he was elected secretary.
Mosothoane confirmed having received a letter from Home Affairs, but he said it was short on details.
He said the union would get in touch with the department with a view to glean more information regarding its investigation.
Mosothoane declined to comment about issues between him as an individual and the department, saying he believed “it is a legal matter”.
However, he said the union leaders wouldn’t ignore the matter at all.
“I have brought the union legal department on board to look at it from the legal perspective.”
He said the legal team would examine the implications of the latest investigation development, taking into consideration the immigration and labour acts.
“We need to investigate before our decision, and after our investigation we will definitely make an appropriate decision. We will also seek an explanation from him,” Mosothoane said.
According to him, Home Affairs’ decision had political implications for the union.
To address the implications, he said the provincial structure would have to meet and look at the matter because “Ndwandwe was elected at the Satawu conference”.