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Volunteers swindle literacy programme out of R1.5m

Crime & Courts
Johannesburg - The Basic Education Department is trying to recover more than R1.5 million from volunteers who fraudulently claimed payments of stipends in one of its programmes aimed at reducing adult illiteracy levels.

The department is considering using the Asset and Forfeiture Unit to recoup the money volunteers obtained from the Kha Ri Gude mass literacy programme by registering “dead” pupils to receive extra payments.

In reply to questions asked by the parliamentarians of the official opposition, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said R474 737 had been recovered by the end of last month.

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The Basic Education Department is trying to recover more than R1.5 million from volunteers who fraudulently claimed payments of stipends. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

“The balance will, where possible, be deducted from the affected volunteers when remaining payments are processed."

“The department engaged the Hawks regarding the matter, who advised that the relevant body that needs to deal with the matter is the Asset and Forfeiture Unit,” Motshekga said.

The fraud was uncovered after a query by Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu who found the department had fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R44m in the 2015-16 year.

The amount was revised to R1 549 899 after an investigation.

Motshekga said auditors had raised red flags after stumbling on fictitious payments made to volunteers in the Kha Ri Gude programme.

“The auditors found that there was registration of deceased learners before the start of the campaign resulting in the over-payments of stipends to educators, supervisors, co-ordinators and the project management company on account of fraudulent claims.”

Motshekga also said the alleged fraudulent cases were investigated and it was found that 90 volunteers were involved in the scam.

“Ninety volunteers were found guilty and paid R282 297. The volunteers were removed and the monies deducted. The department deducted the funds owed from the stipend payments due to the volunteers,” she said.

Motshekga said her department was improving its internal control in order to strengthen financial management in the Kha Ri Gude programme.

Political Bureau

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