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Durban - The president of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, already suspended over utterances in the media in support of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, has confirmed that he is the subject of a separate internal probe.
Thobile Ntola said a probe into his relationship with a schoolbook company, Lebone Litho Printers, and Basic Education Department director-general Bobby Soobrayan was part of a “witch-hunt”.
The allegations against Ntola surfaced in a circular issued to Sadtu members, detailing the decisions taken at Tuesday’s meeting at which he was suspended.
It stated that Sadtu’s national executive committee suspended Ntola for “bringing the union into disrepute through unauthorised utterances” and repeatedly breaching its media protocol, which dictates that Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke must speak on its behalf.
Two weeks ago, Ntola commented in the media that Sadtu’s Eastern Cape region had accepted Vavi’s apology for his sexual encounter with a junior employee.
But the circular then went on to say that these transgressions were not the only allegations against Ntola.
A “possible conflict of interest” arising from his relationship with Lebone Litho Printers, and his relationship with Soobrayan – whose head the union is calling for – was also being probed.
Soobrayan is on special leave, pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing into allegations which include that he allegedly flouted the Public Finance Management Act.
Meanwhile, the office of the public protector is also investigating the awarding of a contract for textbooks by the Basic Education Department to Lebone Litho Printers.
On Thursday, Ntola told The Mercury that he had not been formally served with a notice of his suspension, or about the probe.
He said it was only logical that the president of Sadtu would have dealings with the director-general of the department, as well as publishers and service providers.
Ntola said that elements within Sadtu had taken exception to his long-standing friendship with Lebone Litho Printers boss Keith Michael.
“But Lebone does not have a contract with Sadtu. This is a witch-hunt. I knew this was coming,” Ntola said, adding that the allegations were spearheaded by those within Sadtu who were “hungry for positions”.
Maluleke could not be reached for comment.