Education officials blindly spent R92m on bursaries

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PIET RAMPEDI

THE bankrupt Limpopo Education Department apparently spent R92 million on study bursaries without clear selection criteria, let alone proof of academic results from bursars.

A Deloitte forensic report seen by The Star 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.

It added that the bursary programme had been marred by “control weaknesses”.

“No evidence of the selection criteria followed for the student inclusion in the bursary programme. No evidence found that Wits University produces bursars’ academic results before payment for the following year’s studies are made,” part of the report states.

It said 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 payment of R20m made to Wits University.

The department had no bursary policy, Deloitte added, but was busy 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 on accommodation and HIV skills training expenditure.

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

But officials made reservations worth hundreds of thousands of rand in lodges in which they had interests, the report says.

The report further identifies discrepancies between charges from Karibu Lodge, outside Tzaneen, compared to the actual number of delegates who attended the conference and the number of nights charged. Dubious payments of between R25 000 and R5m each were also made to various service providers.

Department spokesman Pat Kgomo refused to comment because they had not received any forensic investigation report.


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