National Union of Mineworkers members chanting and singing. Picture: SOWETAN
National Union of Mineworkers members chanting and singing. Picture: SOWETAN

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called for a special board meeting of the Construction Industry Retirement Benefit Fund to discuss the alleged misappropriation of R4.8m.

The NUM, an affiliate of the labour federation Cosatu, made the call on Tuesday, following its national executive committee meeting held in Johannesburg last week.

The union, which organises in the mining and construction sectors, expressed concern about the possible abuse of monies in the fund, which is administered by Alexander Forbes.

Tebatso Mokoena, the NUM's construction sector co-ordinator, told Business Day that R2.5m was allegedly used to buy t-shirts for the fund for marketing purposes.

The union maintained this was done without following proper procedure, and that a forensic audited had been instituted to determine if no fraudulent activity took place and whether the t-shirts were delivered.

The NUM wanted another investigation conducted on the R2.3m that was allegedly paid to printers, “but transferred to another account leaving only R200,000 in the printer’s account”.

Mokoena said a special board meeting of the fund will be held soon to discuss the outcomes of the forensic audits.

“People will be made to account because this is a lot of money.”

NUM general secretary David Sipunzi stated that the matter was reported to the union by their trustees.

The NUM was highly perturbed because the fund was a retirement benefit vehicle “for the most vulnerable workers in our sector”.

“Should anybody be found to have been on the wrong side of the law, we call for tough action against them,” said Sipunzi.

Alexander Forbes spokesperson Lynn Stevens told Business Day: "The Construction Industry Retirement Benefit Fund is a client of Alexander Forbes, thus your enquiry should be directed to them." 

The fund could not immediately be reached for comment.

The fund is no stranger to controversy. About 16 years ago it was reportedly forced to write off R18m that it invested in Telkom's empowerment consortium, Ucingo.

After buying up shares at R33 in the hope that the price would rise on listing, Ucingo incurred significant losses when Telkom listed at R28 on March 4, 2003.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za