Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Monday denied lying about firing former education administrator Anis Karodia.

She never used anyone, including Karodia, as a shield to save herself in an uproar over the late delivery of school textbooks in Limpopo, Motshekga wrote in an open letter.

“The main point I want to respond to, relates to what seems to be the media's opinion that I have lied about having removed Dr Anis Karodia from the Limpopo education department as the head of intervention.

“Dr Karodia is no longer head of the intervention team because of the instructions that I gave that he be removed. Dr Karodia did not leave Limpopo out of his free will.”

She said Karodia was not a “fall guy”, and that at a briefing in Limpopo, she accepted responsibility for the “textbook problem”.

Motshekga said a City Press editorial had depicted her as a “a petty pathetic liar desperate to save (her) own skin at the expense of others”.

“The person written about in the City Press cannot be the person I know myself to be.

“Thanks to my age, I am at a stage where there are very few things that I don't know about myself, so the City Press and Karodia could not be more wrong about me and the stupid things I'm capable of.”

She said Karodia needed to say whether he left the department voluntarily, or through her instruction.

Motshekga also asked if she could speak publicly on the reasons for his removal, despite both previously agreeing not to.

The City Press reported on June 24 that Motshekga had not fired Karodia, despite telling the media she had done so. According to the newspaper Motshekga blamed Karodia for the department's failure to deliver textbooks to Limpopo pupils.

“Motshekga must apologise to me and speak the truth to the public,” Karodia told the newspaper.

“She must clear my name and speak the truth.”

In its editorial City Press asserted that education was in crisis and criticised Motshekga's description of the state's failure to deliver textbooks as “a problem, not a crisis”.

“No amount of nonchalance or evasion by the education department can change the fact that when children have to rely on courts to get textbooks it means we have deep-seated problems in our education system,” the editorial reads. - Sapa