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Cape Town - More than 4 000 Western Cape Education Department staff and former employees owe it R66.5 million. In most cases the money was advanced to employees who applied for incapacity leave or ill-health retirement but whose applications were later rejected.
The department has handed over documents to the standing committee on public accounts detailing the debt it was owed. The documents show 2 891 former employees owe the department R40.6m while the arrears of 1 433 staff members total R25.7m.
Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said most of the debt was the result of payments made to employees who applied for incapacity leave and ill-health retirement. The department paid staff while they waited for the outcome of health risk assessments.
Attwell said it always tried to recover the money if external health risk managers found the employees or former employees were not entitled to it because their applications for incapacity leave and ill-health retirement were declined.
Attwell said the department planned to write off old debt.
The department scrapped R16m in debt last year. Three-quarters of the written-off debt had prescribed, while R2m had been scrapped because the debtors had died.
The department also decided to scrap R46 612 owed by former employees because of they were experiencing “undue hardship”.
Last year the department collected R18.4m, while R24.4m in new debt was raised. Between May and July R2.3m in debt was raised and R3.4m collected.
Attwell said debt levels would continue to fluctuate as the department paid staff who were awaiting the outcome of their health risk assessments.