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School body being probed over funds

The school governing body (SGB) of a Pretoria high school is being investigated by the Gauteng Department of Education for allegedly misusing school funds, including the alleged use of funds raised by students for the fixing of toilets.

The department has confirmed that it is investigating allegations that the SGB of Hofmeyr High School in Atteridgeville is spending more than R70 000 on “transport costs” annually.

This is despite the fact that most members of the SGB live in Atteridgeville, hardly justifying the excessive use of school funds for their travelling costs.

This has raised the ire of pupils and their parents, who have alleged foul play considering that this amount is even more than the subsidy the school gets from the department. The Pretoria News has seen the school’s financial statement ending December 2010, which shows that R70 000 was spent for transport for SGB members.

The amount is twice what the SGB spent for transport costs in 2009, which amounted to nearly R30 000.

In the same period, the department’s subsidy to the school amounted to R60 000, while there are other costs including for maintenance, even though the school’s toilets have been dysfunctional.

A parent who spoke to the Pretoria News on condition of anonymity for fear of her child being victimised, said an investigation into the school’s finances was needed urgently.

“It cannot be acceptable that so much of the school’s money is spent on the so-called transport costs of SGB members when it could be spent for the benefit of pupils.

“There has been a lack of transparency from the SGB itself and when questions are asked about these issues, we never receive any answers,” she said.

The Pretoria News also received a letter from concerned pupils who claimed that they had raised funds amounting to about R15 000 for the toilets to be fixed, but had no idea what happened to the money.

“We don’t care about the other stuff (transport costs), but please we raised the money to fix the toilets and they are still not fixed and our hard-earned money that we begged from our parents has vanished,” said a pupil.

The department did not respond to specific questions about what this money had been used for.

“The department is aware of these allegations. We have instituted an investigation. When it is concluded we would know what action to take,” spokesman Charles Phahlane said.

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