Hundreds of unemployed teachers in Southern Nyanza may have lost millions of shillings in a job recruitment racket. Three-day investigations by Saturday Standard have unearthed details of how trained, but desperate teachers are asked to part with between Sh75,000 and Sh150,000 to be issued with Teachers Service Commission (TSC) posting letters, which are indeed fake.
It has also emerged that several schools in Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira counties may have knowingly or unknowingly welcomed teachers with fake TSC letters.
The racket is run by a high school principal in one of the secondary schools in North Kamagambo, Rongo, Migori County, who uses his deputy and two subordinate staff as agents. They identify gullible teachers, collect money and give them with their fake application and appointment letters.
Printed on River road
Parents keen to see their children get employment have been selling animals and land to raise the money demanded by the fraudsters.
It is suspected that the fake documents are printed in Nairobi, and dispatched to Rongo and Kisii through two bus companies.
A check at the parcels’ books at one of the bus companies’ offices in Rongo, confirmed the principal and his employees frequently sign to pick the forms.
On Monday, this writer, posing as father of a desperate teacher looking for employment, came face to face with one of the agents, a groundsman at the high school, who happily accepted to facilitate employment in exchange of Sh75,000.
A phone call between this writer and the broker quickly yielded a face-to-face meeting at a shop in Rongo town. Looking cagey and shabbily dressed, the man came clutching a brown envelop bearing the “TSC” application forms.
Broker: My friend I am finally here. I have the forms as we discussed. One form goes for Sh150,000. Your daughter should bring her passport size pictures. She will fill the form and wait for four days to get an employment offer letter. We will then post her to a school of her choice.
Writer: Mzee, help me my daughter is desperate for a job and I can only raise Sh50,000.
Broker: That is too little. You know this money is shared between several people. We have three people at the TSC headquarters, then there is my boss (Principal). We also share it with some education and security officials. But all the same, you look like a good man. Bring Sh75,000.
Writer: How genuine is this deal?
Broker: This is real. We have employed many people. I have just returned from a trip to Rusinga Island in Homa Bay where we recruited more than 15 teachers. Don’t worry.
He dangled the form, boasting that it was genuine, before putting it back in the envelope. He was disappointed after learning that I did not have ready cash.
The broker opened up on how they conduct the recruitment in a bid to win my confidence.
“We have helped many people. The forms are sent after every three days through a bus company. Our boss is very connected at the TSC,” he said.
After extracting the information I needed, I did not go back and what followed were countless phone calls from the broker.
Investigations revealed that the cartel is spreading to other parts of the country and has widened the targets to include those seeking employment as teachers in teachers training colleges and youth polytechnics.
A few teachers have chickened out of the deal after suspecting that they were being duped.
Those who have been placed in schools soon realised they had been conned after their names missed on the TSC pay roll.
A victim, Merceline Marube was about to pay Sh100,000 when she realised she was dealing with crooks.
“A relative introduced me to these people. I travelled all the way from Mombasa to Rongo in Migori to meet them on February 21. They promised to post me at Marereni Secondary School in Malindi where there were vacancies. But I realised they were fake and I didn’t pay,” she said.
The application form she had filled has been declared as fake by TSC.
One of the fake “offer of employment” letters seen by the Saturday Standard is signed by someone else on behalf of the TSC Chief Executive, but, this too has been declared a forgery.
A source conversant with the racket said the fraudsters may have collected up to Sh4.8 millionbetween January and March. The two agents who collect the money are often given long off days to enable them travel far and wide, in search of gullible teachers.
TSC has distanced itself from the employment racked and called for investigations to arrest the masterminds.
Work of conmen
Migori TSC County Director Beatrice Lukalo and the Commission’s public relations manager Kihumba Kamotho expressed shock at the existence of the racket.
“The TSC employment forms are serialised and are sent through very secure system. They are not handled or distributed by villagers. What these people are using must have been printed in Nairobi,” said Ms Lukalo.
She added: “The Primary School employment forms and letters come through my office. Secondary schools are given forms according to vacancies. Candidates are interviewed by the Boards,” she said.
They dismissed claims that the fraudsters had infiltrated TSC at the county and at the headquarters.
“The Teachers Service Commission conducts transparent and credible recruitment of teachers. This is the work of con men who should be arrested,” said Mr Kamotho. “All our vacancies are advertised in the media and the recruitment procedures are water tight. It is unfortunate this kind of thing is still going on despite several interventions we have made to warn teachers against falling prey to such people.”
Kamotho said TSC was currently only filling few vacancies left by teachers who have either retired or died. Ms Lukalo urged those seeking TSC jobs to seek clarification from her office instead of paying money to fraudsters.
Rongo Divisional Police Commander Peter Kirui said they were not aware of the racket since no victims has filed a complaint. But teachers familiar with the scam, told Saturday Standard those who have been conned fear reporting the matter to the police for fear of being arrested for aiding corruption.
Sources said villagers neighbouring the secondary school headed by the main fraudster, were last week planning to storm it and seize the fake employment forms.
“This teacher is using his office to store the fake employment papers. He is rarely in the school because he is busy conning our sons and daughters. He is very arrogant and boasts how he was well connected. This why we were planning to burn his house,” said a local farmer.
When reached on phone, the Principal denied any involvement in the racket.
“I didn’t know about that racket. I also cannot talk to you on phone. Come to the school,” he said before hanging up.
Our attempts to meet him at the school were futile as on two occasions we visited, he had reportedly driven out to meet senior education officials in Rongo.