Outrage over educator’s kidnapping

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Teachers not only face crowded classrooms and a lack of discipline and resources, but violent contests for promotion. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Durban - Parents and teachers have expressed outrage at the kidnapping of an acting principal, allegedly by a cash-for-jobs syndicate.

The Durban acting principal, who was kidnapped outside school gates two weeks ago, has not returned to school as she fears for her life.

Kaise Ngcobo, who works at the Waterloo Primary School in Ottawa, near Verulam, is thought to have been a victim of the cash-for-jobs syndicate understood to be operated by teacher unions around the country.

The syndicate allegedly intimidates principals into leaving so that their posts can be given to their preferred members, who pay up to R30 000 for the jobs.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has since established a ministerial task team to investigate the alleged selling of posts in the education sector.

The committee will be headed by a retired judge or education expert.

Ngcobo, who has been at the school since 2002 and was shortlisted for the principal position, was seized by three men as she got out of her car to open the school’s electronic gate, which had jammed.

 

Ngcobo was warned that she would be killed if she returned to the school. The position, which had been vacant for over a year, was allegedly earmarked for a Sadtu official.

The post, worth R400 000 a year, was frozen while a grievance was lodged against the appointment process by Sadtu.

Ngcobo requested extended leave while recovering at home. “I am not sure when I will return to school; my doctor will decide that. I am still on medication,” she said.

Waterloo school governing body chairman, Fana Sibiya, said security had been tightened at the school.

“A parents’ meeting was held the week after the kidnapping. More than 900 parents turned up and were furious about what had happened. They believe it’s imperative that the department allow a fair process to appoint a principal,” he said.

Sibiya said the school is functioning as usual as the deputy principal has stepped in as acting principal.

Motshekga met teacher unions last week as part of the consultative process of establishing the task team.

 

Motshekga’s spokesman, Elijah Mhlanga, said: “The minister has stressed that if the allegations (of union intimidation) were found to be true, such actions would not go unpunished as it was corrupt and illegal.”

 

He said all unions had agreed to co-operate.

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said no arrests had been made and police were still investigating Ngcobo’s kidnapping.

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Sunday Tribune


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