Johannesburg - Suspended SA Democratic Teachers Union president Thobile Ntola stayed away from a disciplinary hearing after Sadtu members were mobilised to mock him.
Ntola was due to plead on nine counts of misconduct against him at Sadtu’s headquarters in Joburg on Monday.
The Star understands that a senior Sadtu leader, known to the paper, sent an SMS to Ntola’s alleged detractors, asking them to protest against him.
The SMS says in part: “NEC. Highly confidential and not for circulation because certain names are excluded for security reasons. The disciplinary hearing of Ntola is set for 14th to 16th in Johannesburg, same place as last one.
“Please be there to defend the organisation because there are moves to bus hooligans (in) to march to the office. Please indicate if you need travelling and accommodation urgently directly to me. The time for the hearing is 9am on Monday at the venue to be confirmed.”
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke – who is accused of sending the SMS – did not confirm or deny sending it.
He said Sadtu would respond “at an appropriate time”.
Maluleke also did not confirm Ntola’s non-appearance, saying it was an internal matter.
The Star understands that Ntola decided not to attend after he received the SMS on Sunday. Instead, he sent his lawyer to represent him.
At the hearing, more than 100 Sadtu members responded to the call and used the occasion to sing derogatory songs about Ntola and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
The singing took place under the supervision of Sadtu leaders. The crowd chanted slogans such as “Down with Vavi and his dogs – Down with Ntola and his dogs!”
Sadtu, through Maluleke, claimed that Ntola had links with former basic education director-general Bobby Soobrayan.
He claimed that Lebone Litho Printers – which received tenders to supply schools with textbooks – paid hotel accommodation and flight tickets for Ntola and some of his relatives.
Sadtu also alleged that Soobrayan had influenced the issuing of the tenders, but the department found him not guilty last month following a disciplinary hearing.
The union also claimed that Ntola used his position to get bribes. It said one of Sadtu’s service providers had bought a house worth R3.5 million for him at upmarket Gonubie in East London.
The union also claimed that several payments were made into his personal account and that a vehicle rental company linked to Sadtu had rented out cars to Ntola and some of his relatives.
The main charge against Ntola was for speaking to the media about the charges against Vavi after he had sex with a junior Cosatu official at the federation’s Joburg offices.
Ntola’s supporters plan to march to their headquarters on April 25 to urge his reinstatement.
On Monday night, Sadtu sent out a statement saying
: “President comrade Thobile Ntola’s lawyers wrote a letter to our lawyers on the morning of the hearing, advising that they are unable to attend the hearing because of other commitments and that they have advised comrade Ntola to attend and apply for a postponement.
“Despite the assurance from his lawyers, he did not arrive or call Sadtu to indicate why he could not attend,” it said.