Teachers from a school in the far north of Johannesburg say they are tired of the corruption in the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE). The teachers allege that the “cash for posts” scandal, where teachers have to pay bribes for entry-level and promotional posts, is ongoing. The Daily Vox met with the teachers Jabulani Nkosi*, Phumzile Manyisa*, and Thulani Bhengu* to hear their grievances.
Both district officials and school governing bodies (SGB) are involved in the appointment process. Posts are advertised within the relevant district gazette. The districts sifts through applications against the set requirements and sends the list to SGBs to conduct shortlisting and interviews. The SGB sends a list of recommended candidates. The district makes the final appointment.
However, the teachers are alleging that this process is being corrupted.
The teachers are alleging that district officials within the D9 district are intricately involved in the corruption. “Their main interest is all about money,” Nkosi said. He says the corruption mainly takes place in no-fee schools and poorer schools who receive large grants from the government. “The government allocates money in grants for schools to run. The district officials target those schools and the principals to make sure they put a hand in each and every school,” Nkosi added.
The swindling of these funds cannot carry on. The infrastructure of the schools are falling apart, there are also running out of resources for teaching, Nkosi said. “At the end of the day it’s the kids who suffer. These district officials send their own kids to Model C schools,” Nkosi said.
Manyisa alleges that if teachers don’t pay bribes for posts, they are pushed out of their jobs. “Teachers who don’t pay [the bribes] are marginalised,” she said.
The teachers said they were encouraged to speak to the media following the flurry of arrests that was made earlier this month.
The GDE released a statement on October 12 saying that a teacher had been arrested after an investigation implicating six officials in a “cash for post” scandal. The department initiated the investigation followed by an anonymous tip-off regarding cash in exchange for posts.
The others implicated included a principal, two general assistants (GAs) at a high school in Alexandra, and two HR personnel in the Johannesburg East District.
“It is alleged that the implicated officials facilitated permanent appointments of the two GAs and subsequently demanded that they deposit substantial amounts into the educator’s bank accounts” the department said.
Victimisation and bullying
Many are hesitant to speak up about the corruption for fear of victimisation and bullying.
Teachers who are vocal or who pry into the school’s running operations are targeted, Manyisa said. “The vocal ones are the first to be laid off if enrolment drops,” she added.
Anti-corruption NPO Corruption Watch has had reports of teachers who suffered unfair dismissal in the past. In one case a teacher also claimed that to have been arrested and wrongfully imprisoned after false accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards schoolchildren were levelled against them. The teacher told Corruption Watch that he believed the victimisation was a set-up after he reported the school principal for mismanagement of a few million rands of school funds.
The Thubelihle teachers, a group of eight who stood up against their principal and former school governing body chairperson for their alleged abuse of power, were also vindicated. This, before the GDE investigated the matter.
The teachers say because of the involvement of the district officials, they fear reporting the matter to the GDE. They also claim that the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) is involved in the corruption. Sadtu has been accused of being involved in the “cash for posts” scandal, but said that the corruption of a few individuals does not mean the entire union is corrupt.
Other cases have previously been reported to the Public Protector and to Corruption Watch in the past, but the corruption prevails. These teachers said the media is their last resort.
Sadtu provincial secretary Tseliso Ledimo says the Union takes these matters seriously. “We view these allegations in a very serious light though they have not been brought to our attention. We have been consistently calling members to bring such matters to our attention so that we engage the GDE to address,” Ledimo said.
In an interview with The Daily Vox, the GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said the GDE needs specific complaints to take action. “We need complains for us to do anything. All complaints received are managed by relevant officials, hence we need specific complaints for us to action accordingly,’ Mabona said.
“Our demands is that harassment must come to an end, corrupt officials must be exposed, and false accusations must end,” Bhengu said.
By blowing a whistle on the corruption, Nkosi hopes this can “open up a can of worms. We hope other districts from other districts will open up and tell their stories,” he said.
*Names have been changed