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Johannesburg - Pressure is ratcheting up on the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to lay criminal charges against two of its senior managers accused of siphoning about R30 million from the institution.

On Friday, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it would open a case of fraud against UJ council chairperson Professor Roy Marcus and deputy vice-chancellor of finance Jaco van Schoor on Wednesday.

“We’re baffled why the university is unwilling to lay criminal charges against the two when it’s clear that what they did constitutes a criminal offence,” Nehawu said on Friday.

Student bodies, the SA Student Congress Organisation and the EFF Student Command have previously indicated they intended to lay criminal charges against Marcus and Van Schoor.

UJ announced on Friday that the council had resolved on Thursday that there was “a prima facie case that the actions of Marcus and Van Schoor contravened legal and ethical obligations”.

“The council has resolved to take all necessary steps to recover financial losses suffered by way of civil proceedings and will be instructing the university’s attorneys to investigate whether there is also a basis for laying criminal charges against any of those implicated in the forensic investigation,” said spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen.

He added the university had been informed that Marcus had since resigned both as chairperson of the council and as a council member “in the interest of the university, without admitting any wrongdoing”.

Van Schoor would be subjected to a disciplinary process. Esterhuizen said that UJ would consider reporting the pair’s misconduct to relevant professional and other bodies. But this decision appears to have done little to appease Nehawu. “The leniency exhibited by the university leaves much to be desired,” it said.

The Sunday Independent reported in July that Marcus and Van Schoor had been suspended after it emerged that they had used UJ companies to personally benefit from some contracts for the installation of solar geysers.

They were meant to be installed at the university’s premises and residences, and PTiP Innovations, one of the UJ-owned firms, was among those tasked with doing the job. Marcus and Van Schoor allegedly abused their executive powers by channelling some of the funds from the project into Innovative Investment Corporation (IIC), a Sandton-based company in which they hold shares.

The pair, who are listed among the firm’s only four directors, had apparently not declared their stake in the firm to the university.

Auditing firm SizweNtsaluba Gobodo was commissioned to do the forensic probe, and its report was damning. The pair have denied the allegations and say they haven’t been presented with details of the alleged fraud.

“This is money that could have been used to give access to working-class children who can’t afford the exorbitant fees associated with higher education,” Nehawu said.

It added that R30m “could have granted many children from poor backgrounds a chance to further their studies”.

Marcus’s decision to resign was “an admission of guilt”, Nehawu charged. “Just because UJ has accepted his resignation doesn’t mean he must not be criminally prosecuted.”

Mike Teke has been appointed new chairperson of the council.

Saturday Star