THE Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has recovered R2.5-million for the embattled Eastern Cape department of education in corruption-related cases.

This comes despite allegations the unit was battling to make headway into investigations because of uncooperative department officials.

SIU acting head of communications Marika Muller said investigators had made several breakthroughs into corruption, fraud and maladministration in the department. The unit had further stopped R11m-worth of illegal transactions being made.

Muller said investigators had also managed to crack various cases of departmental officials with business interests in the department to the value of more than R13-million.

“The SIU has so far forwarded 46 cases to the department with the recommendations that disciplinary action be taken against the officials involved,” she said. “Currently, 12 cases are going through the department’s disciplinary process.”

Muller would not be drawn into commenting on the allegations that departmental officials were uncooperative.

Education portfolio committee chairman Mzoleli Mrara said they were pleased with the unit’s work.

“We appreciate the strides made by the SIU. We adopted a zero tolerance [approach] to corruption and fraud as the committee. We want the SIU to root out corruption. We want them to conclude pending cases so the department can be stabilised because these suspended officials need to be replaced to enable the department to continue to operate fully.”

Mrara said it was known that some senior officials in the department were corrupt. “I asked them to disclose their interests at a portfolio committee meeting in 2009, but no one did. They run schemes and are involved in scholar transport and school nutrition programmes and are getting a lot of money from these at the expense of the public.”

DA provincial education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said the SIU should be commended for their work.

“It is now up to the department to enforce officials to cooperate. It is incumbent for the MEC [Mandla Makupula] and the head of department [Modidima Mannya] to make sure officials are present on the days of the interviews with investigators, and that they submit documents.”

COPE provincial spokesman Nkosifikile Gqomo said the SIU had done outstanding work. “We are disappointed with the department because certain cases have yet to be resolved. There are officials who still enjoy luxuries by getting paid while suspended. This shows incapability and inefficiency of the department.” — msindisif@dispatch.


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