Natu president Allen Thompson dies
DURBAN: Allen Thompson, the long-serving national office-bearer of the National Teachers’ Union (Natu), has died.
Unconfirmed reports from several members of the country’s second-biggest teachers’ union claimed that the vibrant Thompson succumbed to Covid-19-related complications.
Thompson was known for fighting for teachers’ rights and was most prominent in taking on the Department of Basic Education in June last year when he exposed it for failing to deliver personal protective gear and sanitisers amid the ongoing Covid-19 battle.
At that time, Thompson told Independent Media that the department was engaging with unions in bad faith by announcing dates of reopening schools without consulting them and when it was not adequately prepared to do so.
He was elected to the Natu presidency on September 5, 2018 at the union’s centenary celebration conference held in Empangeni. He took over from Siphosethu Ngcobo (now an MP on the IFP ticket) who retired as the longest-serving Natu president after serving for 18 years.
Ngcobo confirmed to Independent Media on Monday that Thompson had passed away but could not say what caused his death or where and when he had died.
The spokesperson of the Department of Basic Education, Elijah Mhlanga, mourned Thompson’s passing as a huge loss.
“I am terribly shocked and saddened at the news of the passing of National Teachers’ Union president. Allen Thompson, to me, was a brother and very good friend. We worked together very well. What a loss,” Mhlanga tweeted on Monday.
Thompson’s death comes as the labour movement was still reeling in shock following the death of Koena Ramatlou, general secretary of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), last week due to Covid-19 complications.