The extent of the alleged swindling in a Afrikaner teachers union is beginning to unravel, with information pointing to members’ fees splurged on luxury vehicles and expensive holidays and funds transferred to allegedly dubious entities.
Documents obtained from the police probe into allegations of graft in the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) detail, among others, how more than R550,000 was used to pay for a Range Rover Evoque.
The union’s bank statements, which this newspaper has seen, show the vehicle was bought for the controversial South African Education Foundation (SAEF).
The foundation, which is allegedly linked to union top brass, owns the SAOU headquarters in Garsfontein, Pretoria.
However, the bank statements reveal that SAEF charges SAOU, which previously owned the property before it was “dubiously” transferred to SAEF, more than R270,000 in monthly rent.
It also emerged from the bank statements that hundreds of thousands of rands were spent on travel, more than R200,000 between June and November 2015 alone.
In June 2015, information points to more than R100,000 being spent on travel, and in excess of R116,000 in October. In November 2015, R72,000 was spent on travel and R53,000 in December 2015.
The union’s lawyer, Louw Erasmus, denied that SAOU purchased vehicles for SAEF and said the travel was for official purposes only.
In October 2015, more than R5 million was paid to an organisation called SASOO, which he said was the SAOU’s “professional empowerment institute” and that it did not generate any income.
“All teacher unions (National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA, SA Democratic Teachers Union, Professional Educators Union and National Teachers Union) have concluded an agreement with the department of basic education in terms of the Teacher Union Collaboration project and established professional empowerment institutes,” said Erasmus.
The union also pays tens of thousands of rands in monthly membership fees to the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), of which the SAOU’s secretary-general, Chris Klopper, is the vice-president responsible for finance.
Erasmus said the affiliation fee to Fedusa was R63,247.80 per month, which gave SAOU access to the highest consultation forum in South Africa.
He referred The Citizen to the internal investigative report clearing the union’s top brass of wrongdoing.
But members have questioned the probe’s credibility as it was instituted by those implicated in the alleged corruption.