Shaun Battleman, CEO of Access Solution and founder of EduSolutions, has described himself as an activist, teacher and entrepreneur. He is now the head of a multibillion-rand empire that ranges from supplying educational textbooks and material to travel, property development, events management, travel and tourism, and earthworks.
After a brief stint starting in 2000 as managing director for a CNA product, MyOffice@CNA, an internet café concept aimed at small businesses, he started African Access Holdings. The company was set up in 2003 with Thabo Mpama and Mateli Mpuntsha, and it did not take the former teacher long to realise that there were business opportunities with government when it came to delivery of textbooks to non-model C schools.
EduSolutions, trading as Pty Trade 73 and which employed a number of former education department officials, set up its first contract with Gauteng, followed soon after by KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and then Mpumalanga. Battleman’s friendship with President Zuma and his patronage and support of President Jacob Zuma’s Education Trust has led to assumptions that his success has much to do with his political connections, but this had been denied by the company’s legal representative. Battleman has also served on former ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe’s trust.
Thabo Mpama, executive director of sales and marketing, comes from a human resources background, having worked with companies like Sappi and Nampak. He is also the former chairperson of the state training body for IT, electronics and telecommunications, Isett Seta.
Mateli Mpuntsha, executive director, served as director of telecoms policy and human resources development in the Department of Communications, and served as CEO of the Isett Seta. He has been the director who has responded to media allegations surrounding EduSolutions.
Seth Phalatse, non-executive chairperson of African Access Holdings, according to the company’s website, holds positions as non-executive direct at BMW SA, Robert Bosch SA and Emerson Network Power, among others. He also holds a position with the Institute for Global Dialogue.
Salama Hendriks, former national department director of early childhood development, was employed by African Access until 2006 as director of EduLogistical Solutions, a subsidiary. She is credited with being one of the key forces behind acquisition of some lucrative contracts. She is alleged to have assisted the company with the drafting of the winning bid in Gauteng in particular.
Ntimba Moosa, African Accesses Financial director, joined the company after working at the Government Printing Works as chief financial officer, liaising with national, provincial and state entities.
Profession John Volmink, former advisor to Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga, was made a director of Pty Trade 73 when it first started in 2003, but left before it became known as EduSolutions.
Dirk Coetzee, who received notoriety as former Vlakplaas hit squad founder, was employed by former African Access as a security consultant. He is credited with introducing Battleman to President Jacob Zuma, who was his handler when he turned against the former South African government.
Khetsi Lehoko, who served as managing director for African Access, was a former deputy director general in the National Department of Education.
Mogopodi Mokoena, executive director of business development in Africa, according to African Access’s website, was employed as director general of the Gauteng provincial government until 2008 when he joined the company. He serves on the Gauteng management agency board and sits on the board of Blue IQ holdings.
Themba Ndhlovu, head of African Access subsidiary and former senior manager in the department of education and acting head of department for KwaZulu-Natal department of education.