Official arrested in extortion trap

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IOL news june 7  money_nov 28 . .

Durban - A trap set by Education MEC Senzo Mchunu and police has led to the arrest of an Education Department official who allegedly tried to extort R100 000 from an Inanda school principal.

Annette Nomusa Mfeka appeared in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court on Monday and will appear for a bail application on Friday.

Mfeka was arrested in a “sting” in Durban on Friday when she allegedly accepted “a catch” of R30 000, which was part of the extorted amount, from the principal.

The principal, whose name cannot be divulged, to protect her from intimidation, was accompanied by disguised police officers to meet Mfeka at Woolworths in Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street.

Prosecutor Anusha Govender told Magistrate D Misra that Mfeka had extorted the cash from the principal after she had helped the principal obtain a back payment of about R200 000.

The principal had not been paid according to her qualifications for a number of years because she had not submitted her academic qualifications. This year, she submitted the qualifications and applied for backpay. But the application was delayed.

Then she met Mfeka who quickly assisted her. But Mfeka allegedly demanded she be compensated with half of the principal’s pay-out.

“When the teacher was not paying, the accused started to phone her and also threatened her. The complainant reported the matter to her church elders, who helped her to contact the department.

“This led to the accused’s arrest,” said Govender.

Education head Nkosinathi Sishi, who was present in court, addressed the media about Mfeka’s arrest and issues of corruption in his department.

He said Mfeka’s case might open a “can of worms” at Truro House, where the provincial Education Department is based in Durban.

“We hear complaints of corruption happening in Truro House but, so far, this is the first formal complaint made. There is a possibility that these types of crimes are taking place and they are hindering service delivery and undermining our democracy,” said Sishi.

Mfeka would also face an internal disciplinary hearing.

Recently, the department suspended two high-ranking officials suspected of corruption related to its R1.1-billion school feeding scheme.

Sishi said the department was preparing to suspend another 10 officials in connection with feeding scheme corruption.

“We are concerned that there are more teachers falling victim to corrupt officials, but who don’t know how to report these matters. We have two hotlines (086 059 6336 and 080 020 4353) which are free. Otherwise they can contact us directly,” he said.

Govender asked that Mfeka’s bail application be postponed for seven days so the police could verify her home address, confirm her employment with the department and make sure the complainant would be safe if Mfeka was released. - The Mercury


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