Corruption hides in plain sight through clandestine deals made behind closed doors, disguised as legitimate business transactions, and through the misuse of public funds for personal gain. It can often be masked by elaborate schemes and bureaucratic processes, making it difficult to detect without careful scrutiny and oversight. This is the National Tertiary Education Union’s (NTEU) view of the controversial Department of Investigation and Vetting in the VC’s Office at UFH. As NTEU we therefore welcome the arrest of Mr Isaac Plaatjies over the weekend, who controversially became the “Director” of this department in 2018. No due process was followed in terms of his recruitment and appointment. NTEU has long-held the belief that his irregular installation direct in the VC’s office has been paramount event that has led to the militarisation of the university campuses and under his watch and direct, and a secret surveillance network on campus has been set up to spy on staff and students.
The normalization of corrupt practices within our society can contribute to the camouflage of corruption, as individuals may become desensitized to its presence and overlook suspicious activities. This covert nature of corruption underscores the importance of heightened vigilance, ethical leadership, and robust oversight mechanisms to unveil and combat this insidious threat to integrity and fairness in all facets our society. A union's function as a watchdog or overseer serves as the last barrier of protection for workers against corruption and violence by monitoring workplace practices. This does not come without risk, as our very own union President, who is a staff member at Fort Hare, was subjected to torture for asking one too many questions about the irregularities at the university. HR had reported this to the university and absolutely no support has been provided to him or his family to date.
It remains the union’s strategy to create a culture of transparency to combat the corruption crisis in South African universities. NTEU insists on the implementation of robust whistleblower protection mechanisms within the sector and an end to the looting and further deterioration of higher education. “these things must be brought into the light, exposed and eradicated.” Said NTEU GS, Grant Abbott.
“As NTEU together with our federation, FEDUSA, we will be keenly watching the unfolding of this case. It seems like the house of cards is about to fall.” Added Abbott.
NTEU Brand & Communications Manager
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NTEU is a politically non-aligned trade union organizing exclusively in the Higher Education sector and is aligned to FEDUSA, the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa.