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Johannesburg - While several leaders of the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union have been arrested this week in connection with the disappearance of millions from the union’s trust fund, almost R10 million remains unaccounted for.
The claim comes after the arrests of Zenzo Mahlangu, former Satawu president Ezrom Mabyana, and Robert Mashego, a former deputy president of the union who is now the Ekurhuleni council’s chief whip. They were taken into custody on Monday over the alleged theft of R8.2m from the union.
But The Star has learnt that more than R10m over and above this has not been accounted for. It has emerged that R19.7m had been initially invested.
Earlier this week, Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko said the arrests were in connection with fraud and theft related to the SA Railways and Harbour Workers Union (Sarhwu) Enablement Trust. He said the accused stole R8.2m from this fund and bought luxury vehicles and houses.
The trust was established for investment purposes under Sarhwu before the merger that saw the formation of Satawu in 2000.
It is alleged that the money went missing from Satawu while the three were office-bearers.
Mahlangu, Mabyana and Mashego are out on bail, and their case is set to continue in the Johannesburg Special Crime Court on April 15. Mabyana and Mahlangu have been released on bail of R30 000, while Mashego forked out R10 000.
The union’s former president, Ephraim Mphahlele, claimed that some of the money was transferred to certain companies from where it was withdrawn.
Mphahlele resigned in August last year, claiming that Satawu’s leaders were plotting to assassinate him. He joined the splinter union, the National Transport and Allied Workers Union.
On Wednesday, Mphahlele claimed there were three attempts on his life after he called for the union to commission a forensic investigation into the missing millions. This was after it had emerged that there were financial irregularities in the union. He claimed that some of the money was transferred to certain companies from where it disappeared.
“This is making it difficult to trace the money because it was cashed,” he said.
He added that one of the accused transferred R3.6m to pay for a palatial house in Fourways.
“Another portion was used to pay service providers,” Mphahlele said.
Liver Mngomezulu, who was Satawu’s Gauteng chairman, opened a case against the leadership before his expulsion in August last year.
He confirmed that more than R19m had been invested.
Satawu spokesman Vincent Masoga denied the allegations, saying the money had been invested and spent properly.
“No money was looted. This is just rivalry and also an attempt by Mphahlele and Mngomezulu to drag the name of the union through the mud,” he said.
However, he could not give any further details, saying:
“Our lawyers have advised us not to speak about any details relating to this matter.”