Signs of rot in KZN education departmentFriday, 17/08/2012 - 17:15
This week it was revealed that 10 officials in the KwaZulu-Natal education department would be suspended for allegedly abusing the school’s national nutrition programme.
About 2.2-million pupils in the province benefit from the feeding scheme, which costs the province about R1.1-billion a year. For many children living in the impoverished and rural parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the only meal they get for the day is the one that is provided by the school.
It seems officials and teachers within the department are using the feeding scheme, which is meant to alleviate poverty in the province, for personal gain.
The KwaZulu-Natal education department is our zero of the week for not acting quickly or decisively enough in the face of rampant corruption.
This is not the first time it has happened – in June 2012 the department suspended two high-ranking officials who were also suspected of corruption related to the school feeding scheme.
The first individual was accused of colluding to inflate suppliers’ prices and the other allegedly recommended certain suppliers to the director in exchange for kickbacks. Read the full report here.
The province’s education MEC Senzo Mchunu also disclosed last month that a principal had been caught on his way home with a “large portion” of uncooked food.
In recent months several provincial education departments have made headlines for all the wrong reasons and these reports coming out of KwaZulu-Natal do little to quell suspicion that this is yet another gravely affected region.
Extortion case opens a ‘can of worms’
Adding fuel to the fire this week was news that education department official Annette Nomusa Mfeka was arrested in a sting operation for allegedly trying to extort R100 000 from a school principal in Inanda, near Durban.
According to reports, the principal had not been paid according to her qualifications for years because she had not submitted her academic record. When she did submit her qualifications this year and applied for back-pay, the application was delayed.
The principal then met Mfeka who helped secure the R200 000 pay-out, but after the money was transferred Mfeka started demanding that she be given half the amount.
“When the teacher was not paying, the accused started to phone her and also threatened her. The complainant reported the matter to her church elders, who helped her to contact the department. This led to the accused’s arrest,” prosecutor Anusha Govender told the magistrate when Mfeka appeared in court this week.
Education HOD Nkosinathi Sishi, who attended the court hearing, addressed the media about Mfeka’s arrest and issues of corruption in his department.
He said Mfeka’s case might open a “can of worms” at Truro House, where the provincial education department is based in Durban.