Sadtu sues ex-officials of R15m

Salipswu leader Thobile Ntola.
Salipswu leader Thobile Ntola.
Image: Eugene Coetzee /The Herald

South African Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) is hauling its erstwhile leaders Thobile Ntola and Mbuyiseni Mathonsi to court over defamation to a tune of R15m.

According to Sadtu, Ntola and Mathonsi have been on a slander campaign against the current crop of its leaders making “reckless” and “defamatory” statements.

Ntola started his own union South African Liberated Public Service Workers’ Union (Salipswu) following his removal as Sadtu president after being found guilty of misconduct.

The statements apparently go as far back as 2016 when the two leaders claimed that Sadtu’s KZN secretary did not possess necessary qualifications and that its president Magope Maphila and vice-president of education Veronica Hofmeester received payments from the South Africa Council of Educators (SACE). Sadtu decided after its investigations that the claims had no merit.

“It is regrettable that instead of championing the cause and unity of workers, Ntola and Mathonsi are rather using a workers’ union for self-interest," Sadtu said in a statement.

"Ntola and Mathonsi are well aware that the defamatory statements they have been making and continue to make were investigated and found to have no substance but persist with these allegations.”

Sadtu is now claiming that Ntola and Mathonsi are propelling defamatory statements against its leaders as fight back against their expulsion.

“Ntola and Mathonsi seem to have decided to use their positions in Salipswu to champion their own personal vengeance against Sadtu and certain of its leaders. He appears hell-bent together with Mathonsi to use vilification and slander to settle scores with Sadtu and its leaders,” said Sadtu.

Ntola was, in 2018, accused by members of Salipswu, a South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) affiliated organisation, of misappropriating over R600,000 of members’ funds.

The Mail & Guardian reported that R300,000 of the funds was said to have been used for purchases at Game, a retail group.

Ntola had not commented by the time of publishing as his phone rang unanswered. A contact listed on Salipswu’s website, who did not disclose his identity and position in the union, said he was not aware of the lawsuit.

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