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Trial of woman without matric, who earned R1.2 million working as a teacher, postponed

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Trouble started for Ntombelanga Labane when a whistle-blower, who knew that the woman never passed matric, reported the matter to the Public Service Commission offices in Mpumalanga.

The Hawks said Ntombelanga Pretty Labane who has been working as a teacher since 2016, wrote matric four times – in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and in all her four attempts, she failed. File Picture: Supplied / Hawks

FORTY-year-old Mpumalanga woman, Ntombelanga Pretty Labane, has appeared before the Amersfoort Magistrate’s Court after she was arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, on charges of fraud.

Responding to a query by IOL, Mpumalanga provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Monica Nyuswa said the case against Labane was postponed to August.

“The matter above was postponed to August 1, 2024 as a provisional date,” said Nyuswa.

Last week, IOL reported that Labane was returning to court after she was apprehended by members of the Secunda-based Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations.

Mpumalanga spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Monica Nyuswa. Picture: NPA

Provincial Hawks spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Sekgotodi, said Labane had been working as a teacher since 2016.

It is alleged that on September 1, 2016, Labane applied for a business and accounting teacher’s post at Hlelimfundo Secondary School in Amersfoort, under Mpumalanga’s Volksrust circuit.

“Labane submitted a CV, copies of a fraudulent matric certificate, a B-ED degree, and SACE (SA Council for Educators) certificates to the school principal, who informed the school management team to consider her application. They then agreed that she is suitable for the post,” said Sekgotodi.

The principal informed the School Governing Body (SGB) about the decision taken by the school management team and the SGB supported the decision.

“The management team allowed Labane to apply for the post, and she was given an application document called EDU 1 to apply for the post. SGB members and the principal signed the application forms on September 12, 2016. All relevant documents were sent to the circuit manager who signed and took them to the Department of Education’s district office at Ermelo,” said Sekgotodi.

“The application was sent to the Human Resource Persal registry section, and it was forwarded to the human resource provisioning section. After the human resource provisioning section checked it, it was forwarded to the employment section where it was captured and Labane was employed.”

Trouble started for Labane when a whistle-blower who knew that the woman did not pass matric, reported the matter to the Public Service Commission offices in Mpumalanga.

The matter was investigated by the Public Service Commission.

“After the investigations, findings and recommendations were made.

“The principal, circuit manager and the district office were asked about a fraudulent matric certificate and they reported that they did not notice that it was fraudulent as they do not have detectors to verify the validity of the documents. The Public Service Commission referred the matter to the Hawks Secunda-based serious commercial crime investigation (unit) for further investigation in July 2022,” said Sekgotodi.

The Hawks spokesperson clarified to IOL that Labane is not in custody, as no warrant of arrest had been issued against her.

During further investigations by the Hawks team, it was discovered that Labane does not have a Grade 12 certificate, and that she wrote matric four times – in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

In all her four attempts, the Hawks said Labane failed matric.

“Labane then forged the matric certificate by putting the certificate number: 040 9517 7028 B which belong to another candidate called Nozipho Ritta Ngema. The results that were appearing on her fraudulent matric certificate were not her real results,” according to the Hawks.

Labane took her fraudulent matric certificate and applied to study at Walter Sisulu University whereby she obtained her Bachelor of Education (B-ED) degree.

“She also applied for a SACE certificate with that fraudulent matric certificate. She also (used the documents) when she applied for the educator’s post at Hlelimfundo Secondary School,” said Sekgotodi.

During the investigations, it was also discovered that from September 2016, Labane had prejudiced and caused an actual and potential loss amount of R1,292,382 to the Department of Education. Labane earned the money as her salary during her time of employment.

“During the discovery, Labane abandoned the job and disappeared. The investigation was finalised, and the court issued a J175 (summons) on April 16, 2024 against Labane to appear in court. She was traced, arrested, and appeared before the Amersfoort Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The case was postponed to June 13, 2024 for further investigation,” said Sekgotodi.

Hawks’ spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi. File Picture

Meanwhile, provincial head of the Hawks in Mpumalanga, Major General Nicholas Gerber applauded the investigating team for the successful investigation.

Gerber also praised the whistle-blower, and encouraged community members to continue reporting cases of unqualified teachers.

He said such educators produce poor pass rates and place the education system at risk. Gerber also advised government departments to put measures in place to verify the legitimacy of qualifications and employment records.

Last year, the South African Council for Educators warned teaching professionals with fraudulent qualifications not to come near its headquarters.

The warning came after the Lyttelton SAPS arrested two people at the SACE headquarters in Centurion, Tshwane, for allegedly presenting fake certificates.

The 34-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man, who reside in Johannesburg, allegedly attempted to apply for a professional registration certificate with fake Unisa Bachelor of Education (B-ED) degrees.

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