MPLS order probe after fact-finding mission

A DELEGATION from the Bhisho Legislature has uncovered allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement at six schools in the Cacadu district.

report on the findings will now be written by the portfolio committee on education and submitted to the Eastern Cape department of education to conduct an investigation.

The fraud allegations emerged after the committee visited the schools last week. Among their findings were that money for a school’s nutrition programme disappeared and at another school, teachers were lending school funds to each other.

The MPLs started a three-day visit to Willowmore, Steytlerville, Somerset East and Bedford on Wednesday.

The committee found hostels at three boarding schools – Willowmore, Daleview, and Aeroville – in a poor state, and claims of mismanagement of funds and fraud were drawn to their attention.

Further allegations of mismanagement of funds were made at two schools in Bedford – Intlama Primary and Lonwabo High.

Committee chair Mzoleli Mrara said the visits, though prompted by the allegations, were also part of the committee’s resolution to visit all boarding schools in the province.

“There have been inconsistencies in the operation of these boarding schools because there was no uniform policy in place, and that is why we asked the department to come up with a policy within three months to regulate hostels.”

Mrara said he was shocked by the living conditions some boarders were exposed to. “Prisons are far better than these hostels. You find that at certain hostels there are only 21 pupils accommodated, while they were built to house a capacity of 200. The rooms are deserted because they are in such a bad state.” Mrara said they also found:

Lack of financial records for money paid to the department’s revenue fund;

Caterers were appointed by the department’s head office in Zwelitsha and schools had no copies of contracts at their disposal; and

Caterers were providing bad meals, while owners of certain catering companies were not even known by schools.

Mrara said allegations of financial mismanagement had been made at Intlama Primary and Lonwabo High School.

More than R12 000-worth of funds earmarked for the school’s nutrition programme was withdrawn from its bank account – just months after the programme was reintroduced in the Eastern Cape.

A complaint of fraud and corruption was opened with police and a member of the school’s governing body has since been suspended.

At Lonwabo High School, teachers were allegedly making cash loans to one another using school fees.

DA provincial education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said schools had reported that they had continuously contributed to the provincial revenue fund but there were no financial records.

Attempts to get comment from COPE provincial spokesman Nkosifikile Gqomo were unsuccessful. —


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