Vaal Tech head accused of abusing funds
Roshila Pillay The rector and vice-chancellor of Vaal Technikon, Aubrey Mokadi, has allegedly been abusing technikon funds. Senior technikon staff and students frustrated with Mokadi’s running of the institution are accusing the rector of victimisation, mismanagement and nepotism. This is not the first time the rector stands accused on these charges. In 1998 the Mail & Guardian reported that Mokadi was fired after a commission of inquiry found him guilty of financial impropriety and abusing his position as rector. Mokadi returned as rector of Vaal Technikon at the end of last year, after he won an arbitration case against the technikon. Mokadi now stands accused of using technikon funds to purchase his Mercedes-Benz S500, which at R690 000 far exceeds the technikon’s car allowance.
He is also alleged to have hired a consultant at a cost of R200 000 to work on the technikon’s institutional development plan and employment equity plan instead of appointing a staff member to do the task. Staff say he spent R200 000 on a fountain built on campus grounds, threw a party at a cost of R180 000 for Minister of Education Kader Asmal, victimised staff and uses campus security for his personal use. Acting vice-rector KC Mabelane responded to the allegations saying: “Management has the prerogative to determine functions that should be outsourced within the institutional policy directives ... no party was arranged for the rector, [but an] official function of the technikon held on July 28 2000. The main activities of the day were, among other things, the unveiling of the fountain ... signing of the transformation charter… adoption of the institutional emblem.” Mabelane says that an auditor’s report confirmed that: “The purchase [of the Benz] complies with the limits as set by the budget for vehicles.” Staff and students say that the technikon is “in the red financially”. They fear the “gross mismanagement of finances” may be the reason for a proposed 23% increment on student fees. Every morning, anytime from 9am onwards, a gold Mercedes Benz S500 pulls up to the Vaal Technikon grounds. Three bodyguards get out, wearing blazers with “Ntwanas” emblazoned on the back. One of the bodyguards opens the door of the Benz and out steps a man clad in a suit. The bodyguard helps the man put on his suit jacket and carries his belongings for him. The man strides towards the university’s offices. Vaal Technikon students can be forgiven for thinking that a celebrity just entered their sphere when in fact it is none other than their rector, Mokadi.
“It’s like [the security guards] are guarding the premier or the president,” says a staff member. A call to the campus security confirmed that four security officers guard Mokadi’s house in Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging, where the technikon is based, one officer guards his Benz and three officers guard the man himself. A member of the security team says this has been the case for years even with previous rectors. On the issue of the outside consultant, a staff member said the June deadline for the institutional development plan will not be met by the technikon as a result of management’s inefficient handling of the matter. A member of staff says on Mokadi’s return after his expulsion, he had a party to which he invited Asmal. “Mokadi wanted the minister to endorse his transformation agenda. However, the minister wanted clarity and after not receiving it, he declined to attend,” he says. Mokadi decided to go ahead with the party. Morale is low at the technikon. Since his return, the rector has suspended several senior staff members.