The lawyer acting for teachers union Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (Saou) has accused The Citizen of being party to a smear campaign against them, despite an official confirmation from the Hawks that the elite crime-busting unit was investigating the union on allegations of fraud and corruption.
Early this month, The Citizen reported how, in sworn statements, members of Saou alleged there was an elaborate scheme to fleece the union through the Financial Services of SA (Finsa), TO Onderlinge Maatskappy (Pty) Limited (Toom), and the SA Education Foundation (Saef), of which the union’s executives are alleged to be directors.
Saou members claim funds, collected from membership fees of 37 000 members, were being dubiously channelled to the above entities in the form of loans, rent and management fees.
They have also questioned why their union was paying Saef rent for the office building in Garsfontein, Pretoria, though the building originally belonged to the Transvaalse Onderwysvereniging, which later became Saou.
In one of the statements, a Saou member questioned loans totalling more than R49.8 million allegedly paid from Saef to Toom and Finsa.
The Hawks are investigating the union for alleged fraud, corruption, and contravention of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act in connection with the explosive allegations, but Saou lawyer Louw Erasmus insists there was no investigation.
The Citizen has provided Erasmus with the police case number and the contact details of Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu, who confirmed the case to this publication.
Erasmus insists there was no such an investigation. “You are being fed lies. We have made inquiries with the Hawks and there is no such an investigation.
“The case number you provided is for another matter. You are publishing lies,” he charged.
Following The Citizen’s report on the investigation, Saou sent out a press statement in which Erasmus details, in a sworn affidavit, that a “Captain Mnisi” from the Hawks got in touch with him and solicited a bribe to make the case disappear.
But this publication can reveal that the bribe issue was never reported to the police, which raises questions about why Erasmus, according to his affidavit, interacted with “Captain Mnisi”.
“This office can confirm that this matter is not being investigated by a ‘Captain Mnisi’,” the Hawks’ Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said. “And furthermore, there is no record of a registered enquiry or case number reported by Mr Erasmus at this stage.”