SIU to probe E Cape education: Daily Dispatch

THE Special Investigative Unit (SIU) is to probe maladministration, unlawful conduct, expenditure and negligence in the Eastern Cape department of education.

This was announced late yesterday by the Office of the President.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch, presidency spokesman Harold Maloka said President Jacob Zuma had issued the proclamation following information from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

He referred further questions to Justice and the SIU, but neither could be contacted for comment at the time of writing.

Eastern Cape education acting superintendentRay Tywakadi said he was not in a position to comment on the matter when approached for comment. “I will need to check with our legal unit and I cannot confirm anything.”

According to Maloka’s statement, Zuma had in terms of the SIU and Special Tribunals Act authorised the unit to “investigate allegations in respect of certain affairs” of the Eastern Cape department of education.

The allegations

● Serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the department;

● Improper or unlawful conduct by employees or officials of the department;

● Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property;

● Unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts, transactions, measures or practices having a bearing upon state property;

● Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property; and

● Unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public or any category thereof.

Attempts for comment from the chairwoman of the provincial portfolio committee on education, Kholiswa Fihlani, were also unsuccessful.

DA MPL Edmund van Vuuren said it was “high time” a probe be undertaken in the department. “A lot of things are going wrong there. There’s R120-million underexpenditure on payment of salaries to teachers and learner-teacher support materials are not bought for schools.”

UDM MPL and standing committee on public accounts provincial chairman Max Mhlati said the probe was welcomed.

“We have a situation of the head of department [Mthunywa Ngonzo] continuing to earn his salary while at home but the charges against him are going nowhere,” Mhlati said. “The department has collapsed and nothing was ever achieved by the national intervention.”

Tywakadi said it was not the first time the President had issued such a proclamation for a SIU investigation into the department.

The Dispatch reported last year that only one of the employees implicated in wrongdoing by the SIU had been fired.

The presidency announced at the time that 87 cases had been referred to the department by the SIU for steps to be taken. —