Nehawu files charges against UJ in R30m fraud scandal

Date: 04 Oct 2017

 University accused of failing to act after two academics were fingered

THERE is confusion over whether two senior University of Johannesburg (UJ) academics implicated in an alleged R30 million fraud scandal have seen the forensic report incriminating them.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) yesterday laid two criminal charges against UJ at Brixton police station for defeating the ends of justice and “failing to protect the public purse”.

The matter relates to UJ’s confirmation that there was a “prima facie case” that its now former chairperson of the university council, Professor Roy Marcus, and the deputy vice-chancellor for finance, Jaco van Schoor, may have siphoned off money meant for installing solar geysers on the university’s premises and in its residences.

The Star understands the funds were allegedly channelled to a company linked to the two academics.

UJ commissioned a forensic probe with audit firm Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo (SNG), in which it deduced that Marcus and Van Schoor “contravened legal provisions and ethical obligations, including those contained in the UJ statute”.

But both Marcus and Van Schoor slammed the university yesterday, claiming they had yet to see the SNG report despite the university insisting that Marcus had been given a copy.

Marcus threatened legal action against UJ for the manner in which it had conducted the forensic probe.

“I have twice asked them (SNG) to give me an opportunity to respond to anything that may seem to contradict what I have told them. This has not happened,” Marcus told The Star.

“I am advised that for the university to have concluded its investigation under these circumstances is fundamentally flawed and I am seeking legal advice in this regard.”

UJ spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen disputed Marcus’s claims, saying the university did provide the findings of the investigation to him.

Esterhuizen neither confirmed nor denied that the same was done for Van Schoor.

Meanwhile Nehawu president Mzwandile Makwayiba said the union had no issues with Marcus and Van Schoor, which was why it had opened the case against UJ.

He said Nehawu’s gripe lay with UJ for “failing to report a criminal act”, which the union believed was fraud related.

“The problem with fraud and corruption in South Africa is that it has a certain colour. I may be wrong, but where corruption involves white people in this country, it doesn’t get exposed,” Makwayiba contended.

“For example, not much is said about Absa being asked by the public protector to pay back the money it received from the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) just before the end of apartheid,” he pointed out.

Makwayiba was referring to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s Ciex report released earlier this year, in which she recommended that more than R1 billion be recovered from Absa for a loan that Bankorp – a bank Absa bought in 1992 – received from the SARB.

Makwayiba, who was accompanied by Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha and the union’s national treasurer Kgomotso Makhupola, denounced UJ for not keeping the union informed throughout the forensic probe, despite Nehawu being the dominant union at the institution.

“But, whether people try to hide it under the table, Nehawu will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the truth comes out and people are brought to book,” Makwayiba said.

“R30 million could have educated many students from poor backgrounds, including the improvement of our members’ conditions at the university,” he added.

Esterhuizen did not respond to questions sent to him regarding the case against UJ.

Marcus maintained he “never defrauded the university and most certainly did not benefit financially from any university transactions”.

Van Schoor said he would not comment on the criminal case as the matter was sub judice.

Questions sent to Constable Mikateko Bila, spokesperson at Brixton police station, were unanswered at the time of publication.

By Khaya Koko - khaya.koko@inl.co.za

For more info see: http://www.iol.co.za/the-star