Solly Tshitangano moves from his job in the Mpumalanga government to Limpopo government as the general manager of finance in the education department


End of Feb – Limpopo Education Department chief financial officer (CFO) Ian van der Merwe leaves. Tshitangano is appointed acting CFO from 1 March to 31 August. During this time he learns about the department’s intentions to outsource textbook procurement and EduSolutions winning the bid. After 31 August, when he returns to his post as general manager of finance, he has nothing more to do with the EduSolutions matter, but is asked to pay its invoices.

Early April – Tshitangano raises the red flag after head of the education department (HOD) Benny Boshielo tells him the department is going to outsource the procurement of learner teacher support material (LTSM).

8 April – HOD signs a service level agreement to renew a warehouse used to store books.

May – Tender to outsource is published in the Sowetan newspaper and government tender bulletin.

27 July – After the bid adjudication committee (BAC) meets, it tells Tshitangano it has decided on EduSolutions as the provider.

4 August – Tshitangano is in correspondence with the HOD regarding his concerns with the tender award, and the HOD says the issues will be sorted out in the service level agreement (SLA).

12 August – The HOD asks Tshitangano when he is going to finalise the EduSolutions tender, but Tshitangano says they must get an opinion from the Treasury first. He writes to the head of the Limpopo Treasury, Nerulal Ramdharie, asking him to appoint a team to investigate the tender award.

15 August – Ramdharie replies to Tshitangano and the HOD, saying he will appoint a team.

16 August – Ramdharie and the provincial treasury withdraw the offer to investigate.

August – Tshitangano reports this to the public protector (PP).

31 August – Tshitangano’s term as acting CFO ends.

1 September – A new CFO is appointed – Martin Mashaba.

8 – 18 October – The SLA with EduSolutions is finalised. Tshitangano does not see the SLA until he is asked to release a R19.7m advanced payment in December. He queries this amount and the matter of the advanced payment as there were no such provisions in the bid, with which he became familiar during his time as acting CFO.

November – PP asks for the EduSolutions tender documents from the provincial education department.

December 2010 – Tshitangano is brought documents to release R19.7m to EduSolutions as an advanced payment. He is under pressure from the HOD and CFO and releases the money, but not before stating his concerns. This statement is signed by the CFO and HOD.

28 December 2010 – It is decided that a tender for Grade R toys and science calculators is to be given to EduSolutions as well.


28 January 2011 – The state tender bulletin states that the tender for Grade R toys is cancelled because the validity period has expired. EduSolutions is not mentioned.

February – March – Invoices start coming in from EduSolutions: first an amount of R108m, with a discount of R32m. The discount is to be shared, with the state getting about R10m and EduSolutions getting R22m. Tshitangano starts following matter up with the PP himself after reporting it in August 2010. The PP says the office requested documents from the HOD in November 2010, but it was alleged he never gave them to the PP.

March 2011 – The order for Grade R toys is issued to EduSolutions.

13 April – Tshitangano’s office is locked and he begins working from home. The department starts looking for reasons to dismiss him.

April – Tshitangano writes to the Limpopo premier, MEC and the Presidency, citing allegations mainly against the HOD and CFO. He asks that these allegations are investigated.

May – The MEC and premier respond to Tshitangano, saying they will look into these allegations. The Presidency responds in August.

6 May – Tshitangano officially receives a letter of suspension, but it does not contain reasons for his suspension.

July – The PP meets with the HOD, saying it is looking for the documents. Tshitangano receives an email from the PP saying that the HOD suspended him because he failed to give the PP the necessary documents.

5 June – Becoming frustrated that the MEC and the premier are dragging their heels with their investigations, Tshitangano sends additional documents and material to the PP and the auditor-general (AG). He also sends complaints to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The finance department responds immediately.

July 2011 – The PP writes to Tshitangano, asking for his evidence file, which he hands over. The PP also tells him to make affidavit detailing the allegations, which he does. It lists the irregular appointment of EduSolutions, underfunding of norms and standards, procuring mobile classrooms from a very expensive service provider using fraudulent approval, and procuring a service for R95m when there were competitive bids of below R50m.

1 July – Solly receives fabricated charges of suspension from the department through its lawyers. A date for a disciplinary hearing is set for October.

5 July – Motshekga responds to Tshitangano’s concerns.

12 July – AG responds to Tshitangano’s concerns, saying he will conduct a special audit in September, but this is not done.

19 July – The HOD appoints Neo Africa to do a forensic investigation into Tshitangano’s allegations. He asks them to include a list of allegations from the premier’s office. In September or October, Tshitangano asks for the Neo Africa report for his disciplinary hearing, but he is not given access to it.

August – The Presidency responds to Tshitangano’s concerns sent in April.

4 November – A new attorney asks for a two-week postponement, but this is denied and Tshitangano’s disciplinary hearing continues in his absence. He is found guilty on all charges.

5 December – Limpopo Department of Education is put under administration.

6 December – The HOD signs a letter saying he is dismissing Tshitangano.

14 December – Tshitangano writes to the national Department of Basic Education to protest against his victimisation.


January – The national department is told to get a legal opinion on the EduSolutions matter. It approaches advocate Pat Ellis, but he is not given any of Tshitangano’s documents. Ellis is given very little information from the provincial education CFO to form an opinion, despite the national department requesting this.

16 January – City Press report names Tshitangano as the whistleblower and says that EduSolutions is accused of obtaining a multimillion-rand textbook tender in Limpopo illegally.

17 January – The national department receives a recommendation from Ellis to order textbooks outside the contract with EduSolutions because that tender is probably invalid and unconstitutional. Motshekga is informed of this opinion, which quotes section 217 of the Constitution. Ellis also asks why EduSolutions was allowed to keep most of the discount. He attaches the City Press article to his opinion and says it would be irresponsible for the department not to interview Tshitangano. However, it has not interviewed him. Ellis says the tender is invalid and must be cancelled.

January – At the end of the month, Ellis’s opinion documents are sent to Lisa Naidoo, the legal head of the national Department of Basic Education.

14 February – Tshitangano meets Anis Karodia, at the time the provincial education department administrator, who tells Tshitangano for the first time that Ellis said the tender was invalid. Karodia also tells Tshitangano that Neo Africa was commissioned in July 2011 to look into his allegations, but that its report found that his allegations were unfounded.

2 April – Motshekga assures EduSolutions that everything is still in order and the department will honour the contract.

26 April – Karodia terminates the EduSolutions contract, but the national department waits until May to place new book orders.

Early May – Tshitangano approaches Corruption Watch and Section27, which says it will fight his unfair dismissal for him.

14 May – Documents are filed in the Labour Court claiming that the applicant (Tshitangano) was fired because he blew the whistle.

28 May – Department fails to file its response to the statement that Tshitangano was fired for blowing the whistle, instead filing it on 1 June, claiming that the bid is valid, despite the legal opinion.

May – EduSolutions is quiet throughout May and does not submit any court documents to reclaim the tender.

1 June – The national education department in its answering affidavit to Tshitangano’s Labour Court filing on 14 May, says the EduSolutions tender is valid. EduSolutions wants the tender back, noting that the department filed that the tender is valid. The advocate representing the state asks Tshitangano for assistance to fight the case against EduSolutions, and he agrees to help.

3 June – The advocate informs Tshitangano he will not need him to come to Johannesburg anymore as he is only preparing interim affidavits as it’s an urgent case. Tshitangano emails them his statement.

22 June – EduSolutions fails in its application to the North Gauteng High Court to have its contract reinstated.

1 July – Media starts reporting on lies surrounding Motshekga’s statements made in the previous few months.

6 July – The Mail and Guardian reports on EduSolution’s links to President Jacob Zuma. It also reports that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is looking into 22 Limpopo Education Department officials, some of them very senior, over alleged irregularities in textbook and other educational tenders worth hundreds of millions of rands. A confidential SIU report shows that the R680m contract awarded to EduSolutions for textbooks, educational toys, science kits and other materials for the 2011 school year is one of those under scrutiny.

Acronyms used:
  • LTSM – Learner teacher supply material
  • SLA – Service level agreement
  • BAC – Bid adjudication committee
  • CFO – Chief financial officer
  • LDE – Limpopo Department of Education
  • NDE – National Department of Basic Education
  • HOD – head of Limpopo Department of Education
  • PP – public protector
  • PSC – Public Service Commission
  • Edu/EDUSOLN – EduSolutions
  • A-G – Auditor-General
Cast of characters:
  • Angie Motshekga’s spokesperson on ETV on Tuesday, 3 July – Panyaza Lesufi
  • Whistle blower – Solly Tshitangano.
  • Limpopo Education Department HOD – Benny Boshielo
  • Limpopo education MEC – Dickson Masemola
  • Limpopo head of Treasury – Nerulal Ramdharie
  • Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga
  • ANC chief Whip Mathole Motshekga (husband of education minister)
  • Premier of Limpopo Cassel Mathale
  • EduSolutions director – Moosa Ntimba
  • Former Limpopo Education Department administrator – Anis Karodia
  • Chief administrator – Monde Tom
  • Advocate Pat Ellis – provided legal opinion for the state in January 2012.
  • Neo Africa – firm appointed in July 2011 to do “forensic investigation” into Tshitangano’s allegations
  • Administrator who replaced Karodia and filed answering affidavit against EduSolutions at the North Gauteng High Court – Mzwanxile Mathews
  • Legal head in the national Department of Basic Education – Lisa Naidoo


Track whistleblower Solly Tshitangano’s two-year battle to get a dodgy multimillion-rand education tender in Limpopo declared invalid.