KZN Education MEC sheds light on sanitary pads forensic report

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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Durban - The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal has been advised to take appropriate disciplinary action against three senior managers after it was found they were responsible for the mismanagement of funding relating to the department's procurement and distribution of sanitary pads.

The three are: the deputy director general for Institutional Development Support Branch, the chief director for Social Enrichment Programmes and the director for Special Needs Education.

During a media briefing on Thursday, KZN MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu said the recommendations from the investigation called for the department to take necessary steps to recover the losses incurred as a result of the failure by the service providers to make full deliveries for goods and services.

"Having applied my mind to the report, I came to the conclusion to accept the findings and recommendations of the report. I have since written to the officials affected by the adverse finding to inform them about my decision and that I have referred the report to the Head of Department for implementation.

“The implicated officials have now been suspended pending the outcomes of the disciplinary hearing," Mshengu said.

He said he will deal with the matter relating to the director for Employee Relations, who is also on suspension.

"I am dealing with this matter because it has generated some public interest with some alleging which-hunt and/or persecution," he said.

Mshengu said the director in question is facing and has to answer to allegations relating to the appointment of a particular teacher during the marking of the Matric exams.

"The teacher in question did not meet the requirement and therefore did not qualify. However, it is alleged that she was appointed after the intervention of the director, who allegedly directed that the educator in question must be appointed because she is a girlfriend to the MEC.

“The educator was removed from the marking centre after the DDG for Curriculum Management and Assessments and HOD were alerted of these allegations. All the scripts that she had marked were re-marked by other suitably qualified educators," Mshengu said.

He added fraud and corruption had no place in the department.

"When there are allegations, we are prepared and determined to act without fear, favour or prejudice," he said.

Around April 2017, the department approved the purchase of sanitary pads for 953 122 girl learners at the cost of R54 899 827.20.

In August 2017, the department approved and issued a second order for the same number of learners and at the same cost.

In total the department between 2016 and 2017 spent R129 799 654 to procure sanitary towels.

During the implementation of this programme, the allegations of over-supply, supply to non-deserving schools and possible flouting of processes and procedures were raised by unions and other organs of society.

These allegations led into the commissioning of a forensic investigation conducted by Phumlani Mkhize & Associates (Pty) LTD.

Findings of the forensic investigation:

  • At the stage of expanding the programme, the sanitary towels were to be procured for girl learners in all public schools from Grade 4 – 12 and thereby ceasing to be a programme aimed at only indigent girls in selected quintile schools.
  • The number of girl learners to benefit was determined by statistics obtained from Education Management Information System for the 2016 school year but to be used in the 2017 implementation plan.
  • That not only were these statistics for the incorrect year, but were well known to be unreliable.
  • In determining the number of girl learners to benefit, neither a needs analysis nor any evaluations of the pilot project was performed.
  • That the Department was misled in approving the procurement of unnecessary sanitary towels.
  • There was no guide to the distribution and implementation of this project. Circular number 65 of 2017 which sought to address this issue was only signed into effect on the July 27, 2017 when the distribution had already started on the May 23, 2017.
  • In one of the meetings, the issue of surplus stock was identified and a decision was made to deliver such surplus to the Districts and Head Office.
  • However, in the submission made to the HOD subsequently, the number of girl learners to benefit remained unchanged and no issue of surplus stock was referred to nor any evaluation of the first order.
  • In a survey conducted by the investigators, it was revealed that an excess of 2 702 065 packs of sanitary pads were not needed.
  • The site visits conducted by investigators in each District Office confirmed significant surplus stock being stored in various places.
  • That the Districts had no role in the implementation and monitoring of the project.
  • In quantifying a loss in relation to sanitary pads distributed, it was established that 388 680 packs were not delivered to the District Offices and the Head Office. A further 64 269 packs were not delivered to schools. These packs are valued at the cost of R4 310.40

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