The Hawks are zooming in on the South African Education Foundation (SAEF), one of the entities marred in allegations of a scheme to defraud the mainly Afrikaans teachers’ union, Suid Afrikaanse Onderwyser Unie (SAOU).
Of interest to the Hawks are the circumstances around the establishment of SAEF, its relationship with SAOU and how SAEF acquired assets previously owned by the SAOU.
On Monday, The Citizen reported how the union was renting its headquarters in Garsfontein, Pretoria, from SAEF, though the building was previously owned by the Transvaalse Onderwysvereniging, which later became SAOU.
The union’s president, Louis Swanepoel, and general secretary, Chris Klopper, who is listed as a managing director in the foundation’s 2017 financial statements that was sighted, are among the seven people listed in the foundation’s constitution as “first management”.
According to the union’s newsletter dated February 12, the exclusive focus of the foundation, registered in 2004, is to benefit and support the SAOU.
“It [SAEF] is the owner of the SAOU offices and other infrastructure. It is also the sole shareholder of Finsa [Pty] Ltd and TO Onderlikke Mpy [Pty] Ltd [Toom],” the newsletter stated.
The union’s members, in sworn statements, have claimed that union funds were diverted to SAEF, then channelled into Finsa (Pty) Ltd and to TO Onderlikke Mpy (Pty) Ltd (Toom) in the form of loans, rent and management fees.
In one of the statements, a member questioned loans totalling more than R49.8 million allegedly paid from SAEF to Toom and Finsa.
A police contact close to the investigation said it has been established that Klopper was a director of at least 10 companies, including Finsa and Toom, owners of T O Strand Holiday Resort in Port Edward, KwaZulu-Natal.
“Of interest is how all these entities came to be involved with the union, the real reason behind these entities and who benefits from these entities’ dealings with SAOU. The investigation has also uncovered a massive cover-up, intimidation of vocal members and manipulation of information” the source said, adding it was estimated that SAOU has lost more than R500 million, including assets, in the alleged fraudulent scheme.
The Hawks have confirmed they are investigating allegations of fraud, corruption, and contravention of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act but the union’s lawyer, Louw Erasmus, insisted there was no police investigation.
“We did our homework. There is no case whatsoever reported against the SAOU or any of its officials,” he said.
Erasmus said SAEF was founded by Francois le Roux and that Swanepoel and Klopper were members of the executive committee. He also denied that SAEF received any assets from the SAOU.