Varsities paid millions as pupils sat without books

The bankrupt Limpopo Education Department apparently spent R92 million on study bursaries before it had clear selection criteria or proof of academic results from bursars.

A Deloitte forensic report, seen by The Star Africa Edition, has found that the department, which went bankrupt and failed to order textbooks, paid tertiary institutions money for the following year without first getting the bursars’ academic records.

The report stated that the bursary programme had been marred by “control weaknesses”.

“No evidence found that Wits University produces bursars’ academic results before payment for the following year’s studies are made,” read part of the report.

It said the files of 15 of the 20 bursars requested for verification were incomplete.They contained only a copy of a signed contract between the student and the department and an incomplete list of 2010 results. The files formed part of a R20m payment made to Wits.

The department had no bursary policy, Deloitte added, but was drafting one.

The department had awarded bursaries to hundreds of students over the past few years, especially for maths and science-related courses.

The report also painted a picture of the department’s free-for-all attitude towards tenders, particularly for accommodation and HIV-skills training.

Some officials colluded with lodge owners by inflating prices and paying for guests who never slept in those places.

Officials made reservations worth hundreds of thousands of rand in lodges in which they had interests, said the report.

Dubious payments of between R25 000 and R5m each were also made to several service providers such as Gwala Training and Eskom.

Irregular payments made include:

Education Department spokesman Pat Kgomo said he could not comment because the department had not seen the report.

The Star Africa